Skip to main content
ORNL DAAC HomeNASA Home

DAAC Home > Get Data > NASA Projects > MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) > User guide

MASTER: Airborne Science, Catalina Island, California, October 2005

Documentation Revision Date: 2022-08-11

Dataset Version: 1

Summary

This dataset includes Level 1B (L1B) data products from the MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) instrument. The spectral data were collected during one flight aboard a DOE B-200 aircraft over Catalina Island, California, U.S., on 2005-10-31. This deployment was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy's Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) located at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada. Data products include L1B georeferenced multispectral imagery of calibrated radiance in 50 bands covering wavelengths of 0.460 to 12.879 micrometers at approximately 7-meter spatial resolution. The L1B file format is HDF-4. In addition, the dataset includes flight paths, spectral band information, instrument configuration, ancillary notes, and summary information for each flight, and browse images derived from each L1B data file.

The MASTER instrument is a modified Daedalus Wildfire scanning spectrometer that flies on a variety of multi-altitude research aircraft and provides spectral information similar to that provided by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), which are aboard two NASA Earth Observing System satellites: Terra and Aqua. MASTER provides data in 50 channels spanning visible to thermal infrared wavelengths (0.4 – 13 µm). Its data have been used to study geological patterns, land covers, ecological disturbances, and other phenomena that affect Earth surface properties.

This dataset includes a total of 14 data files: 4 files in Hierarchical Data Format (HDF-4; *.hdf) format, 4 text (*.txt) files, 1 archives of text files that are zipped (*.zip), 1 flight maps as GIF (*.gif) images, and 4 browse images in JPEG (*.jpg) format.

Figure 1. Single-band images and a RGB composite image from flight track 3 acquired on 31 October 2005 over Catalina Island, California, U.S. Source: MASTERL1B_0600102_03_20051031_2053_2056_V01.jpg

Citation

Abrams, M.J. 2022. MASTER: Airborne Science, Catalina Island, California, October 2005. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/2031

Table of Contents

  1. Dataset Overview
  2. Data Characteristics
  3. Application and Derivation
  4. Quality Assessment
  5. Data Acquisition, Materials, and Methods
  6. Data Access
  7. References

Dataset Overview

This dataset includes Level 1B (L1B) data products from the MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) instrument. The spectral data were collected during one flight aboard a DOE B-200 aircraft over Catalina Island, California, U.S., on 2005-10-31. This deployment was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) located at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada. Data products include L1B georeferenced multispectral imagery of calibrated radiance in 50 bands covering wavelengths of 0.460 to 12.879 micrometers at approximately 7-meter spatial resolution. The L1B file format is HDF-4. In addition, the dataset includes flight paths, spectral band information, instrument configuration, ancillary notes, and summary information for each flight, and browse images derived from each L1B data file.

The MASTER instrument is a modified Daedalus Wildfire scanning spectrometer that flies on a variety of multi-altitude research aircraft and provides spectral information similar to that provided by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), which are aboard two NASA Earth Observing System satellites: Terra and Aqua. MASTER provides data in 50 channels spanning visible to thermal infrared wavelengths (0.4 – 13 µm). Its data have been used to study geological patterns, land covers, ecological disturbances, and other phenomena that affect Earth surface properties.

Project: MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator

The MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) is a scanning spectrometer which flies on a variety of multi-altitude research aircraft and provides data similar to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER). MASTER first flew in 1998 and has ongoing deployments as a Facility Instrument in the NASA Airborne Science Program (ASP). MASTER is a joint project involving the Airborne Sensor Facility (ASF) at the Ames Research Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS).

Related Publication

Hook, S.J. Myers, J.J., Thome, K.J., Fitzgerald, M. and A.B. Kahle. 2001. The MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) - a new instrument for earth science studies. Remote Sensing of Environment 76:93–102. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0034-4257(00)00195-4

Related Datasets

Additional MASTER datasets are available on the ORNL DAAC MASTER project page.

Acknowledgments

The MASTER instrument is maintained and operated by the Airborne Sensor Facility (ASF) at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, under the oversight of the EOS Project Science Office at NASA Goddard. Data processing was conducted at NASA Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

Data Characteristics

Spatial Coverage: Catalina Island, California, U.S.

Spatial Resolution: 7 m

Temporal Coverage: 2005-10-31

Temporal Resolution: One-time estimate

Study Area: All latitudes and longitudes given in decimal degrees.

Site Westernmost Longitude Easternmost Longitude Northernmost Latitude Southernmost Latitude
Catalina Island, California, U.S -118.6411 -118.2449 33.5324 33.2660

Data File Information

This dataset includes a total of 14 data files: 4 files in Hierarchical Data Format (HDF-4; *.hdf) format, 4 text (*.txt) files, 1 archives of text files that are zipped (*.zip), 1 flight maps as GIF (*.gif) images, and 4 browse images in JPEG (*.jpg) format.

There are different numbers of each type of file, which corresponds to the number of "flights" and "flight tracks. A "flight" is flown on a single day, and a "flight track" typically refers to a segment of a given flight.

  • There is one flight, # 0600102, which includes four flight tracks.
  • For each of four flight tracks, there is one L1B data file in HDF format and one auxiliary browse image (*.jpg).
  • For the flight, there is a collection of auxiliary files providing information about the flight and instrument configuration.

The primary data files are named MASTERLAA_BBBBBBBB_CC_YYYYMMDD_EEFF_GGHH_V0J-X.ext (e.g., MASTERL1B_0600102_01_20051031_2024_2031_V01.hdf).

The flight track-level browse images are named MASTERLAA_BBBBBBBB_CC_YYYYMMDD_EEFF_GGHH_V0J.jpg (e.g., MASTERL1B_0600102_01_20051031_2024_2031_V01.jpg).

The deployment-level auxiliary files are named MASTER_BBBBBBBB_YYYYMMDD_X.ext (e.g., MASTER_0600102_20051031_config.txt).

  • AA = ”1B” , indicating L1B data level,
  • BBBBBBBB = flight number ("0600102"),
  • CC = flight track ("01", "02", "03", or "04")
  • YYYYMMDD = date of sampling,
  • EEFF = starting time at EE hour and FF minute,
  • GGHH = ending time at GG hour and HH minute,
  • J = version number for file,
  • X = the file content (see Table 1), and
  • ext = "hdf", "gif", "jpg", "txt", or "zip", indicating the file extension.

Table 1. File names and descriptions.

File Name Level File Type Total Files Description
Primary Data Files
MASTERL1B_BBBBBBBB_CC_YYYYmmDD_EEFF_GGHH_V0J.hdf L1B HDF-4 4 Multispectral radiance in 50 bands, pixel coordinates, sensor configuration, aircraft platform data, analysis parameters. The "CalibratedData" variable provides estimates of radiance in units of W m-2 sr-1 per micron.
Auxiliary files
MASTERLAA_BBBBBBBB_CC_YYYYMMDD_EEFF_GGHH_V0J.jpg  L1B JPEG 4 Browse figures; one per flight track, multiple tracks per flight.
MASTER_0600102_20051031_ancillary.txt - Text 1 Ancillary information about flight including notes on aircraft platform, mission objective, and data evaluation.
MASTER_0600102_20051031_config.txt - Text 1 Instrument configuration information for flight.
MASTER_0600102_20051031_flightpath.gif - GIF 1 Map showing flight paths.
MASTER_0600102_20051031_spectral_band_info.txt - Text 1 Spectral band information.
MASTER_0600102_20051031_spectral_response_table.zip - Text 1 Spectral response tables by band (ZIP archive of 50 text files).
MASTER_0600102_20051031_summary.txt - Text 1 Time and coordinates for start and end of flight tracks along with the number of scan lines, solar and instrument angles, aircraft altitude, and additional information. FTLT = flight track number.

Data File Details

The HDF-4 files contain swath trajectory data using longitude, latitude coordinates. The spatial resolution is 7 m and is a function of aircraft altitude.

Application and Derivation

The primary objective of MASTER is to: (a) collect ASTER-like and MODIS-like land datasets to support the validation of the ASTER and MODIS geophysical retrieval algorithms; (b) collect these datasets at a higher resolution than the spaceborne datasets to permit scaling studies and comparisons with in-situ measurements; and (c) under fly the EOS-AM1 ASTER and MODIS sensors to provide an additional radiometric calibration to assist with in-flight instrument performance characterization. Calibration is particularly important for ASTER where on-board calibration is dependent on a single black body in the TIR and only partial aperture illumination in the VNIR.

A secondary objective of MASTER is to: (a) provide both a backup instrument and backup modules for the current MODIS Airborne simulator, which is committed to a program of atmospheric and oceanic measurements; and (b) provide a wider spectral and dynamic range alternative to the use of the Thematic Mapper (TM) airborne simulator and Thermal Infrared Multispectral Scanner (TIMS) airborne scanners (JPL, 2021b).

 MASTER imagery has been used for mapping wildfires and their impacts (Veraverbeke et al., 2011), land covers (Li and Moon, 2004), coral reefs (Capolsini et al., 2003), and urban heat islands (Zhao and Wentz, 2016). 

Quality Assessment

The MASTER instrument channels are calibrated spectrally and radiometrically in the laboratory preflight and postflight. The mid-infrared and thermal infrared channels (26–50) are also radiometrically calibrated in-flight by viewing an internal hot and cold blackbody with each scanline (Hook et al., 2001). Three calibration and validation experiments were conducted in 1998–2001 (Hook et al., 2001; JPL, 2021a). Spectral response information for this deployment is included in the MASTER_0600102_20051031_spectral_response_table.zip file.

Data Acquisition, Materials, and Methods

The MASTER instrument was developed by the NASA Ames Research Center in conjunction with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The instrument consists of three key components: the scanning spectrometer, the digitizer, and the storage system. The scanning unit was built by Sensys Technology (formerly Daedalus Enterprises) and the digitizer was a collaborative effort between Berkeley Camera Engineering and the Ames Airborne Sensor Facility (ASF). The data storage system and overall system integration were also provided by the ASF.

The MASTER instrument is similar to the MODIS Airborne Simulator (MAS) developed by the MODIS project (King et al., 1996). However, it has two key differences. First, MASTER supports a variety of scan speeds allowing it to acquire contiguous imagery from a variety of altitudes with different pixel sizes. Second, the channel positions are configured to closely match those of ASTER and MODIS. A detailed description of the instrument and optical system are provided by Hook et al. (2001) and King et al. (1996), respectively.

For this deployment, the MASTER instrument was flown on DOE B-200 aircraft at altitude of approximately 2990 m above sea level.

Flight tracks in this dataset

Figure 2. Flight tracks in this dataset represented as blue rectangular polygons over Catalina Island in the Pacific Ocean south of Long Beach, California. Basemap: © OpenStreetMap contributors.

The flight path for this dataset.

Figure 3. Flight path is shown for 31 October 2005. Flight 0600102 and 4 flight tracks Catalina Island, California, U.S. Path includes outbound route from base in Nevada across southern California to Catalina Island and then return to base. Source: MASTER_0600102_20051031_flightpath.gif

Data Access

These data are available through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC).

MASTER: Airborne Science, Catalina Island, California, October 2005

Contact for Data Center Access Information:

References

Capolsini, P., S. Andréfouët, C. Rion, and C. Payri. 2003. A comparison of Landsat ETM+, SPOT HRV, Ikonos, ASTER, and airborne MASTER data for coral reef habitat mapping in South Pacific islands. Canadian J. Remote Sensing 29:187-200. https://doi.org/10.5589/m02-088

Coll, C., V. Caselles, E. Rubio, F. Sospedra, and E. Valor. 2001. Temperature and emissivity separation from calibrated data of the Digital Airborne Imaging Spectrometer. Remote Sensing of Environment 76:250-259. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0034-4257(00)00207-8

Hook, S.J. Myers, J.J., Thome, K.J., Fitzgerald, M., and A.B. Kahle. 2001. The MODIS/ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) - a new instrument for earth science studies. Remote Sensing of Environment 76:93-102. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0034-4257(00)00195-4

JPL. 2021a. Calibration and Validation, MASTER: MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA. https://masterprojects.jpl.nasa.gov/cal-val

JPL. 2021b. Science objectives, MASTER: MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA. https://masterprojects.jpl.nasa.gov/objectives

King, M.D., W.P. Menzel, P.S. Grant, J.S. Myers, G.T. Arnold, S.E. Platnick, L.E. Gumley, S.C. Tsay, C.C. Moeller, M. Fitzgerald, K.S. Brown, and F.G. Osterwisch. 1996. Airborne scanning spectrometer for remote sensing of cloud, aerosol, water vapor and surface properties. J. Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 13:777-794. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0426(1996)013<0777:ASSFRS>2.0.CO;2

Li, P., and W.M. Moon. 2004. Land cover classification using MODIS-ASTER airborne simulator (MASTER) data and NDVI: A case study of the Kochang area, Korea. Canadian J. Remote Sensing 30:123-126. https://doi.org/10.5589/m03-061

Veraverbeke, S., S. Harris, and S. Hook. 2011. Evaluating spectral indices for burned area discrimination using MODIS/ASTER (MASTER) airborne simulator data. Remote Sensing of Environment 115:2702-2709. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2011.06.010

Zhao, Q., and E.A. Wentz. 2016. A MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) imagery for urban heat island research. Data 1:7. https://doi.org/10.3390/data1010007