Footprint Determination of a Spectroradiometer Mounted on an Unmanned Aircraft System

Deepak Gautam, Arko Lucieer, Juliane Bendig, Zbynek Malenovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unmanned aircraft system (UAS)-mounted spectroradiometers offer a new capability to measure spectral reflectance and solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence at detailed canopy scales. This capability offers potential for upscaling and comparison with airborne and space-borne observations [e.g., the upcoming European Space Agency (ESA) Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) satellite mission]. In this respect, the accurate spatial characterization and georeferencing of the UAS acquisition footprints are essential to unravel the origin and spatial variability of optical signals acquired within the extent of airborne/satellite pixels. In this article, we present and validate a novel algorithm to georeference the footprint extent of a nonimaging spectroradiometer mounted on a multirotor UAS platform. We used information about the spectroradiometer position and orientation during flight and about topography of observed terrain to calculate the footprint geolocation. In a recursive process, the field of view (FOV) of the spectroradiometer projected on the ground. Multiple FOV ground projections retrieved during a spectroradiometer reading (i.e., a single integration time) were aggregated to calculate the footprint extent. The spatial accuracy of the footprint geolocation was validated by applying the georeferencing algorithm on checkpoint pixels of image acquired with a comounted digital camera. Geolocations of the checkpoint pixels, which served as a proxy for the spectroradiometer footprint, were successfully compared with surveyed ground checkpoints. Finally, the spectral and radiometric quality of UAS-Acquired reflectance signatures was compared with ground-measured reflectance of four natural targets (three different types of grass and a bare soil), and a strong agreement was observed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8892627
Pages (from-to)3085-3096
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Footprint Determination of a Spectroradiometer Mounted on an Unmanned Aircraft System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this