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

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

Tuz

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

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