The Influence of the Time Equation on Remote Sensing Data Interpretation
- German Aerospace Center (DLR), Earth Observation Center, German Remote Sensing Data Center, National Ground Segment, 17235 Neustrelitz, Germany
Keywords: Equator crossing time, Equation of time, Land surface temperature, Trend analysis, Validation
Abstract. The interpretation of optical Earth observation data (remote sensing data from satellites) requires knowledge of the exact geographic position of each pixel as well as the exact local acquisition time. But these parameters are not available in each case. If a satellite has a sun-synchronous orbit, equator crossing time (ECT) can be used to determine the local crossing time (LCT) and its corresponding solar zenith distance. Relation between local equator crossing time (LECT) and LCT is given by orbit geometry. The calculation is based on ECT of satellite. The method of actual ECT determination for different satellites on basis of the two-line-elements (TLE), available for their full lifetime period and with help of orbit prediction package is well known. For land surface temperature (LST) studies mean solar conditions are commonly used in the relation between ECT given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and LECT given in hours, thus neglecting the difference between mean and real Sun time (MST, RST). Its difference is described by the equation of time (ET). Of particular importance is the variation of LECT during the year within about ±15 minutes. This is in each case the variation of LECT of a satellite, including satellites with stable orbit as LANDSAT (L8 around 10:05 a.m.) or ENVISAT (around 10:00 a.m.). In case of NOAA satellites the variation of LECT is overlaid by a long-term orbital drift. Ignatov et al. (2004) developed a method to describe the drift-based variation of LECT that can be viewed as a formal mathematical approximation of a periodic function with one or two Fourier terms. But, nevertheless, ET is not included in actual studies of LST. Our paper aims to demonstrate the possible influence of equation of time on simple examples of data interpretation, e.g. NDVI.