Accuracy Evaluation on Geolocation of the Chinese First Polar Microsatellite (Ice Pathfinder) Imagery Academic Article uri icon


  • Ice Pathfinder (Code: BNU-1), launched on 12 September 2019, is the first Chinese polar observation microsatellite. Its main payload is a wide-view camera with a ground resolution of 74 m at the subsatellite point and a scanning width of 744 km. BNU-1 takes into account the balance between spatial resolution and revisit frequency, providing observations with finer spatial resolution than Terra/Aqua MODIS data and more frequent revisits than Landsat-8 OLI and Sentinel-2 MSI. It is a valuable supplement for polar observations. Geolocation is an essential step in satellite image processing. This study aims to geolocate BNU-1 images; this includes two steps. For the first step, a geometric calibration model is applied to transform the image coordinates to geographic coordinates. The images calibrated by the geometric model are the Level1A (L1A) product. Due to the inaccuracy of satellite attitude and orbit parameters, the geometric calibration model also exhibits errors, resulting in geolocation errors in the BNU-1 L1A product. Then, a geometric correction method is applied as the second step to find the control points (CPs) extracted from the BNU-1 L1A product and the corresponding MODIS images. These CPs are used to estimate and correct geolocation errors. The BNU-1 L1A product corrected by the geometric correction method is processed to the Level1B (L1B) product. Although the geometric correction method based on CPs has been widely used to correct the geolocation errors of visible remote sensing images, it is difficult to extract enough CPs from polar images due to the high reflectance of snow and ice. In this study, the geometric correction employs an image division and an image enhancement method to extract more CPs from the BNU-1 L1A products. The results indicate that the number of CPs extracted by the division and image enhancements increases by about 30% to 182%. Twenty-eight images of Antarctica and fifteen images of Arctic regions were evaluated to assess the performance of the geometric correction. The average geolocation error was reduced from 10 km to ~300 m. In general, this study presents the geolocation method, which could serve as a reference for the geolocation of other visible remote sensing images for polar observations.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., Chi, Z., Hui, F., Li, T., Liu, X., Zhang, B., Cheng, X., & Chen, Z.

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Ying||Chi, Zhaohui||Hui, Fengming||Li, Teng||Liu, Xuying||Zhang, Baogang||Cheng, Xiao||Chen, Zhuoqi

publication date

  • January 2021