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NOAA National Calibration Center

About the NCC

The NOAA National Calibration Center (NCC) is under the Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR). The NCC's mission is to establish SI (International Systems of Units) traceability and reduce uncertainties for satellite measurements to ensure high quality data for numerical weather prediction, reanalysis, climate change detection, and other environmental applications. The NCC provides support to satellite programs by enforcing stricter and more widespread quality control on satellite data from the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), which will improve efficiency and reduce costs as the community strives to meet the growing needs for high quality satellite data.

The NCC has the following primary technical functions:
  • (a) Develop, implement, and maintain reference standards and best practices for both pre-and post-launch calibration;
  • (b) Use standard references (vicarious sites, lunar and other astronomical measurements to inter-calibrate and re-calibrate all related satellite instruments;
  • (c) Provide technical oversight for new instrument development and data quality assurance;
  • (d) Support operational calibration to ensure their traceability to established standards;
  • (e) Develop and maintain a calibration repository and archive for calibration datasets and tools; and
  • (f) Validate sensor data records (or level 1b products).

In support of the calibration functions, the NCC also acts as a central point of contact for coordinating field campaigns, aircraft under-flights, and ship missions to minimize costs and improve the measurement quality via comparison with other measurements both remotely sensed and in-situ.

Acronyms: WMO - World Meteorological Organization; GSICS - Global Satellite Inter-Calibration System; CEOS - Committee on Earth Observing Satellites; GEO - Global Environmental Organization; JCSDA - Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation.

NCC Goals

NCC is a nationally and internationally coordinated enterprise to:
  1. Develop advanced science expertise for satellite instrument calibration to provide cross-cutting support to operational satellite programs;
  2. Establish and maintain SI traceability for past, present, and future observations from NOAA satellites, reduce their measurement uncertainties, and assure data quality with best calibration practices;
  3. Develop, implement, and maintain the calibration reference standards and sites for satellite instrument calibration;
  4. Ensure data consistency, quality, interoperability, and usability from research instruments to facilitate the transition from research to operations for both national and international satellite instruments through collaboration;
  5. Develop climate quality calibration capabilities (including radiometric, spectral, and geospatial, temporal, and other measurement characteristics) that meet Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) accuracy requirements, and recalibrate/reprocess historical satellite data to support reanalysis and climate programs;
  6. Validate sensor data records and coordinate field cal/val campaigns;
  7. Establish calibration configuration management, repository and archive of calibration parameter data bases, in collaboration with the data centers;
  8. Foster collaboration between end users, data providers, standards bodies, and instrument makers to close the gaps between user requirements, data quality, and instrument performance.

NCC Activity Plans

  • The NCC will oversee the radiometric, spectral, geospatial, temporal, and inter-satellite calibration of the satellite measurements used by NOAA in operations, with the goal of achieving the best possible accuracy, precision, and long-term stability. It will leverage complementary expertise from key agencies to make satellite observations consistent, intercomparable, and traceable to national/international standards. The NCC will provide a science-based, collaborative, and integrated enterprise solution for satellite instrument calibration, from instrument specifications through pre-launch testing, to post-launch performance. The NCC will build upon and expand STAR's heritage expertise to meet the growing needs and challenges of the satellite programs.
  • The NCC will provide scientific and technical calibration support to all segments of NOAA's satellite programs. For NOAA's satellite acquisition programs, such as the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and the next generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R), NCC will provide government technical oversight in the pre-launch calibration to ensure that: (1) each instrument's calibration complies with the requirements set forth in the Mission Requirement Document (MRD) and its associated Performance Operational Requirement Document (PORD); (2) the measurements are in compliance with recognized national and international standards; and (3) the programs conform to "best" calibration practices. The NCC will provide technical guidance and recommendations to the acquisition program offices to help achieve the highest quality measurements when the sensors are placed in orbit. The NCC will provide calibration support to post-launch check-out and on-orbit verification to ensure that both instrument specifications and user needs are met.
  • For the operational programs, NCC will work closely with satellite operations to ensure that the calibration is traceable to national and international standards, transitioned from research to operations, and performed to support long-term monitoring of instrument performance and anomaly resolution. For the climate programs, NCC will develop advanced capabilities to achieve both operational and climate quality calibration. The NCC also will support the recalibration and reprocessing of historical data sets to improve measurement quality. The NCC will provide cross-cutting support to application scientists within STAR and NOAA's Cooperative Institutes, as well as outside organizations and users. The NCC will provide calibration support to the numerical weather prediction centers on a daily basis, in collaboration with the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA). The NCC will interface with the ground based calibration/validation programs including the Climate Reference Network, radiosonde programs, and aircraft under-flight campaigns.
  • The NCC will hold or sponsor periodic workshops or meetings with participating scientists from different program segments, and key agencies including NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST), other Government agencies, and associated national and international partners to identify challenges, review progress and issues in satellite instrument calibration.

NCC Related Documents