Colour remote sensing of the impact of artificial light at night (I): The potential of the International Space Station and other DSLR-based platforms

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Sensors on remote sensing satellites have provided useful tools for evaluation of the environmental impacts of nighttime artificial light pollution. However, due to their panchromatic nature, the data available from these sensors (VIIRS/DNB and DMSP/OLS) has a limited capacity accurately to assess this impact. Moreover, in some cases, recorded variations can be misleading. Until new satellite platforms and sensors are available, only nighttime images taken with DSLR cameras from the International Space Station (ISS), airplanes, balloons or other such platforms can provide the required information. Here we describe a theoretical approach using colour-colour diagrams to analyse images taken by astronauts on the ISS to estimate spatial and temporal variation in the spectrum of artificial lighting emissions. We then evaluate how this information can be used to determine effects on some key environmental indices: photopic vision, the Melatonin Suppression Index, the Star Light Index, the Induced Photosynthesis Index, production of NO_(2)-NO radicals, energy efficiency and CO_(2) emissions, and Correlated Colour Temperature. Finally, we use the city of Milan as a worked example of the approach.
© 2019 The Authors. This work was supported by the EMISSI@N project (NERC grant NE/P01156X/1), Fond Québécois pour la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologie (FQRNT), COST(European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action ES1204 LoNNe (Loss of the Night Network), the ORISON project (H2020-INFRASUPP-2015-2), the Cities at Night project, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no 689443 via project GEOEssential, FPU grant from the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnologia and F. Sánchez de Miguel. Cameras were tested at Laboratorio de Investigación Científica Avanzada (LICA), a facility of UCM-UPM funded by the Spanish program of International Campus of Excellence Moncloa (CEI). We acknowledge the support of the Spanish Network for Light Pollution Studies (MINECO AYA2011-15808-E) and also from STARS4ALL, a project funded by the European Union H2020-ICT-2015-688135. This work has been partially funded by the Spanish MICINN, (AYA2016–75808–R), and by the Madrid Regional Government through the TEC2SPACE-CM Project (P2018/NMT-4291). The ISS images are courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.
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