Articles | Volume 6, issue 11
Research article
12 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 12 Nov 2013

The in-flight blackbody calibration system for the GLORIA interferometer on board an airborne research platform

F. Olschewski, A. Ebersoldt, F. Friedl-Vallon, B. Gutschwager, J. Hollandt, A. Kleinert, C. Monte, C. Piesch, P. Preusse, C. Rolf, P. Steffens, and R. Koppmann

Abstract. The Gimballed Limb Observer for Radiance Imaging of the Atmosphere (GLORIA) is a prototype of an imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS) for PREMIER, a former candidate mission for ESA's Earth Explorer 7. GLORIA is deployed on board various research aircraft such as the Russian M55 Geophysica or the German HALO. The instrument provides detailed infrared images of the Upper Troposphere/Lower Stratosphere (UTLS) region, which plays a crucial role in the climate system. GLORIA uses a two-dimensional detector array for infrared limb observations in emission and therefore needs large-area blackbody radiation sources (126 mm × 126 mm) for calibration.

In order to meet the highly demanding uncertainty requirements for the scientific objectives of the GLORIA missions and due to the sophisticated tomographic evaluation scheme, the spatial distribution of the radiance temperature of the blackbody calibration sources has to be determined with an uncertainty of about 0.1 K. Since GLORIA is exposed to the hostile environment of the UTLS with mutable low temperature and pressure, an in-flight calibration system has to be carefully designed to cope with those adverse circumstances.

The GLORIA in-flight calibration system consists of two identical weight-optimised high-precision blackbody radiation sources, which are independently stabilised at two different temperatures. The two point calibration is in the range of the observed atmospheric infrared radiance emissions with 10 K below and 30 K above ambient temperature, respectively. Thermo-Electric Coolers are used to control the temperature of the blackbody radiation sources offering the advantage of avoiding cryogens and mechanical coolers. The design and performance of the GLORIA in-flight calibration system is presented. The blackbody calibration sources have been comprehensively characterised for their spatially (full aperture) and spectrally (7 to 13 μm) resolved radiation properties in terms of radiance temperatures traceable to the International Temperature Scale (ITS-90) at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the national metrology institute of Germany.