The ASCWG coordinated an audit of cal-val facilities and activities across Australia which was jointly supported by The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and CSIRO’s Future Science Platform in Earth Observation Informatics. This was published in the following report:

Malthus, T.J., Karpouzli, E., Thankappan, M., Dekker, A., Smith, C. (2014) An audit of satellite calibration and validation facilities and activities in Australia. Report prepared for the Department of Industry Space Coordination Office. CSIRO Future Science Platform in Earth Observation Informatics, Canberra Australia.  ISBN 978-1-4863-0490-5.  

A copy of this report can be downloaded here.

Findings

The report found that significant cal-val infrastructure and activities exist in support of EO across Australia and that some have existed for quite some time. Twelve calibration facilities (value $22.6 M) and 22 validation facilities/activities (value $37 M) were identified with little duplication of effort, and many with strong international connections. These facilities provide great examples of best practice in cal-val, for example in ocean altimetry and in groundcover validation. NCRIS funding (TERN, IMOS and AusScope) has been a significant stimulant (in infrastructure and diversity) of the development of cal-val facilities and activities.

Distribution of cal-val sites across Australia.

Recommendations

The report provided six key recommendations on the path forward for the future of cal-val activities in Australia

Recommendation 1:  Establish a visionary multi-agency coordinated approach to calibration and validation. 

To identify clear agency leadership for cal-val to prioritize available EO funding, to improve practice, make provision for forthcoming satellite missions and guide international engagement. To provide the vision for the recommendations which follow.

Recommendation 2: Where possible, look to harmonise infrastructure and build toward a coherent national cal-val capability across Australia.

Leverage existing infrastructure to provide a broader range of calibration and validation data supporting a greater number of end users and satellite products. Potentially adopt a tiered approach to validation from intensive frequently monitored sites to less frequent monitoring of a wider range of plot-based sites. Exploit manned and unmanned robotic facilities for cal-val in remote areas where it is opportunistic and cost-effective to do so.  Develop coordinated access to field instrumentation, facilities for their maintenance and calibration. Look to establish autonomous monitoring of calibration sites.

Recommendation 3: Enhance current good practice for the systematic archiving and distribution of related cal-val data and associated metadata.

To capitalise on the good practice models provided by TERN, IMOS and AuScope to ensure relevant cal-val data and metadata are openly accessible, including the collation of important ‘historical’ cal-val data. Such approaches would serve to encourage awareness and multiple re-use of data. This also includes the development of ‘GeoWikis’ for the collection of second tier validation data, and the establishment of spectral libraries of Australian biophysical ‘targets’. 

Recommendation 4: Where possible, look for the adoption of international standards, protocols and best practice and publish these.

These ensure data collected in the field using consistent methods, comparability between different sets of measurements and the correct attribution of uncertainties. Includes the establishment of traceability in measurements to national and international standards.  Such practice will have influence and impact internationally by enhancing usefulness.

Recommendation 5: Exploit opportunities for training and education in calibration and validation.

Educate the general EOS community in the importance of cal-val and train the next generation of scientists in emerging technologies in field data collection for cal-valincluding the hosting of international cal-val exercises. Enhance awareness and engage citizen volunteers to support important cal-val initiatives. 

Recommendation 6: Leverage the benefits of improved coordination and planning to provide a systematic, coordinated and sustainable engagement with international community.

Build on the preceding recommended actions and ongoing strong international connections within the community to sustain a strategic longer term international engagement. Realises benefits in co-investment in cal-val infrastructure, early access to EOS data, free access to EOS data and in the longer term influence on development new EOS sensors.