Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Earth System Science

Committee Chair

Sundar Christopher

Committee Member

Manil Maskey

Committee Member

Robert Griffin


Air quality--Remote sensing., Microspacecraft.


Planet, a commercial company, has achieved a key milestone by launching a large fleet of small satellites (smallsats) that provide high resolution imagery of the entire Earth’s surface on a daily basis with its PlanetScope sensor. Given the potential utility of this data, this thesis explores its potential use for air quality applications. Before this data can be utilized for air quality applications, key features of the data including geolocation accuracy, calibration quality, and consistency in spectral signatures need to be addressed. In this study, data from PlanetScope is screened for geolocation consistency, and is compared to Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data over different land cover types, and under varying PM2.5 and aerosol optical depth (AOD) conditions. The data selected for this study was found to fall within Planet’s reported geolocation accuracy of 10 meters (between 3-4 pixels). In a comparison of top of atmosphere (TOA) reflectance over a variety of land cover types, the difference in reflectance between PlanetScope and MODIS ranged from near-zero (0.0014) to 0.117, with a mean difference in reflectance of 0.046±0.031 across all bands. The reflectance values from PlanetScope were higher than MODIS 78% of the time, but no significant relationship was found between surface PM2.5 and TOA reflectance for the cases that were studied. The results indicate that commercial satellite data have the potential to address Earth-environmental issues.



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