Airborne Imaging Spectrometer Calibration Scientist

Battelle and its affiliate, Battelle Ecology, Inc. manages and operates the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project, which is solely funded by the National Science Foundation. A 30+ year project dedicated to understanding how changes in climate, land use and invasive species impact ecology, the observatory’s scientists and engineers are collecting a comprehensive range of ecological data on a continental scale across 20 eco-climatic domains representing US ecosystems.  Our teams use cutting-edge technology, including an airborne observation platform that captures images of regional landscapes and vegetation; mobile, relocatable, and fixed data collection sites with automated ground sensors to monitor soil and atmosphere; and trained field crews who observe and sample populations of diverse organisms and collect soil and water data.  Once structures are completed, a leading-edge cyberinfrastructure will calibrate, store and publish this information.  The Observatory includes more than 500+ personnel and is the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales.






The Remote Sensing Team within NEON operates three Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) payloads as an integral part of the observatory infrastructure.  Each payload consists of advanced remote sensing instrumentation, including a high-fidelity imaging spectrometer, a waveform-LiDAR and a high-resolution digital camera, in order to provide long-term, quantitative information on land use, vegetation structure and canopy chemistry over the NEON sites locations and other sites of opportunity.


The Remote Sensing Team is currently seeking a calibration scientist who will be responsible for the instrument calibration and data quality assessment of three airborne NEON Imaging Spectrometer (NIS) systems. The position is located in Boulder, CO, and will report to the Remote Sensing Team Lead. The Calibration Scientist will lead the laboratory-based radiometric and spectral calibration, and field-based calibration validation of the NIS systems. This includes quantifying the calibration uncertainty and developing improvements to the calibration equipment and protocols.


The Calibration Scientist will also work closely with the Remote Sensing Science Team to refine procedures for verifying the quality of Level-0 NIS data, develop novel algorithms to support the calibration and production of NIS data products, and assist in routine processing of NIS data products. The successful candidate will produce reports and publications of NEON designs, procedures, and protocols and is highly encouraged to collaborate with NEON staff and the research community in the application of airborne remote sensing to continental-scale ecology. The ideal candidate should have considerable knowledge and experience with the fundamental principles and calibration of airborne and/or spaceborne hyperspectral imaging systems.




  • Perform the spectral and radiometric calibration of three airborne hyperspectral imaging systems that were built by NASA JPL and are equivalent to the AVIRIS-NextGen spectrometers.
  • Conduct calibration validation fieldwork.
  • Collaborate with calibration experts to quantify the uncertainty of the current calibration protocols, and subsequently develop improvements to the calibration methodology.
  • Define, procure, and develop specialized equipment for spectral and radiometric calibration.
  • Support continued development of collection protocols of calibration data and lead algorithmic enhancements for improving quality of calibration results.
  • Assess the quality of NIS-derived data products and contribute to their improvement.
  • Collaborate with the Remote Sensing Systems Team to ensure NIS functionality and readiness ahead of flight campaigns.
  • Collaborate with the Remote Sensing Science Team to generate data products derived from multiple sensors.
  • Collaborate with the Flight Operations Team to direct NIS flight calibration activities and advise on flight collection standards and protocols.
  • Maintain the calibration equipment in a clean and organized fashion.
  • Generate internal NEON documents describing the calibration procedures and uncertainty.
  • Participate in routine processing of NIS data.
  • Participate in the larger NEON science community, including participating in collaborations with the external research community and attending meetings/conferences.




  • Bachelor’s Degree in optics, physics, engineering, or equimalent discipline and minimum 5 years related experience.  OR
  • Master’s Degree in optics, physics, engineering, or equimalent discipline and minimum 2 years related experience.  OR
  • PhD Degree in optics, physics, engineering, or equimalent discipline and some related experience.
  • Related experience must include:
    • Working on the spectral and radiometric calibration of airborne or spaceborne earth observing multispectral imaging sensors
    • Operating laboratory equipment in support of sensor calibration
    • Working with passive remote sensors
    • Experience analyzing high-dimensional data.
    • Experience with optics equipment and optical alignment.



  • Must have knowledge in the folling areas:
    • Knowledge of remote sensing and GPS fundamentals.
    • Knowledge of radiative transfer theory.


  • High proficiency with Matlab and ENVI.
  • Proficiency with IDL.
  • Ability to communicate effectively both orally and written.
  • Demonstrated ability to write peer reviewed publications, technical and scientific documents
  • Experience working in a collaborative scientific or engineering enterprise.
  • Ability to work with multi-discipline teams
  • Organized and detail oriented.
  • Able to lift 40 pounds.




  • Experience with the calibration and validation of airborne or spaceborne hyperspectral imaging systems (e.g. AVIRIS, HyMap).
  • 2-5 years experience working with active sensors (e.g. LiDAR).
  • Experience with MODTRAN radiative transfer software.
  • Experience with ATCOR atmospheric correction software.
  • Experience with LabVIEW.
  • Experience with assembling and operating remote sensing systems.
  • Experience with project management, budgeting, and scheduling.
  • Conducting calibration validation field work
  • Experience with integrating spheres
  • Experience with ASD spectrometers.
  • Experience with NIST-traceable calibration standards.
  • Previous experience working with outside vendors to facilitate the procurement, calibration, and maintenance of laboratory equipment.





Must have permanent authorization for US employment. Battelle Ecology, Inc. will not provide any kind of visa sponsorship.



This position offers competitive total rewards including 401(k), health, vision and dental insurance, paid time off and the opportunity to work at an organization with a great mission.


Battelle Ecology, Inc. provides employment and opportunities for advancement, compensation, training, and growth according to individual merit, without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, genetic information, or disability. Our goal is for each staff member to have the opportunity to grow to the limits of their abilities and to achieve personal and organizational objectives. We will support positive programs for equal treatment of all staff and full utilization of all qualified employees at all levels within Battelle Ecology, Inc


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