How do calibrated reflectance panels improve my data?

What are panels?

Every object absorb and reflect a certain amount of light. The amount of light reflected and absorbed by an object (also referred to as an objects "reflectance") can be measured using specialized equipment.

Ever RedEdge includes a grey, plastic box containing a white square and a QR code. The large white square next to the QR code is a calibrated "panel" that we use to calibrate the reflectance values of the MicaSense RedEdge. Each of the MicaSense panels have been tested to determine it's reflectance across the spectrum of light captured by the RedEdge. 

How are panel images used by MicaSense Atlas?

Panel images are used to compensate for the lighting conditions at the time of image capture.  Images of a calibrated panel taken before an after each flight provide an accurate representation of the amount of light reaching the ground at the time of capture.

Why are panel reflectance measurements important?

Reflectance panels 'anchor' the captured data to the lighting conditions of the date, time, and location of the RedEdge flights.  As RedEdge measures reflected light in 5 different spectral bands, it's important to know what the input light from the sun is for those same bands.  The panel images allow Atlas to compensate.  Without a calibration process, data captured over different days or at different times of day cannot be accurately compared for changes. 

What happens if I don't include panel images?

When panel images are not included, Atlas defaults to using a model of the sun's illumination to guess at the amount of light reaching the ground. While this option can be better than no calibration, it can't account for the specific parameters of light which vary as temperature, humidity, wind, and clouds are present. Using a panel ensures Atlas can provide the best possible output data.

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