How to White Balance a Satellite: Aim It at Lake Tuz

By Joseph Calamia | August 17, 2010 6:13 pm


How do you white balance your camera? Aim it at a piece of paper. How do you white balance an Earth-monitoring satellite? Aim it at a Turkish salt lake.

At least that’s the hope of scientists headed to southern Turkey to study a salt lake named Tuz Gölü (Turkish for “salt lake,” natch) later this month. During July and August, most of Lake Tuz evaporates into reflective white salt, making it perfect for satellite-calibration, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites said, recently endorsing the spot as one of eight calibration sites.

Just as white balancing your camera is important to keep your friends from looking jaundiced, calibrating satellites makes sure that they can take accurate climate and coastal degradation measurements.

As Popular Science reports, the team led by the UK National Physical Laboratory will spend nine days at lake Tuz measuring the reflectance of test sites from a variety of angles. From above, several satellites will simultaneously take recordings of the white lake for comparison. The NPL hopes this will be the first step for an automated system “LandNET” using all eight sites.

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Image: NASA

  • Justin Lapp (ActualityScience)

    Everything in space is just like it is on Earth, but infinitely more amazing. The slightest tasks are done with incredibly intricate and creative method. So many of them seem very clever to me.

  • Lolled

    Why not just point it to the sun? It’s a direct light source and it’s so bright it sure gives out white light due to the limited amount of color modern sensors can detect.

  • ankit

    because it’ll destroy or at least damage the sensors.

  • hello motto

    My home country! It is being useful! I am proud! very proud!


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