The instrument, which operates across the UV/VIS and NIR spectrum from 305-775 nm, is designed to measure the absolute spectral radiance of the Earth and compare it with the absolute spectral irradiance of the Sun. Of key importance to the fidelity of these absolute measurements is the ground based calibration campaign. Continuum lamp sources that are temporally stable and are spatially well defined are central to this process. Xenon short arc lamps provide highly intense and efficient continuum illumination in a range extending from the ultra-violet to the infra-red and their spectrum is well matched to this specific application. Despite their widespread commercial use, certain aspects of their performance are not well documented in the literature.
One of the important requirements in this calibration application is the delivery of highly uniform, collimated illumination at high radiance. In this process, it cannot be assumed that the xenon arc is a point source; the spatial distribution of the radiance must be characterised accurately. We present here careful measurements that thoroughly characterise the spatial distribution of the spectral radiance of a 1000W xenon lamp. A mathematical model is presented describing the spatial distribution. Temporal stability is another exceptionally important requirement in the calibration process. As such, the paper also describes strategies to re-inforce the temporal stability of the lamp output by means of a closed loop attenuation scheme and current control.