Polarization Performance Simulation for the GeoXO Atmospheric Composition Instrument: NO2 Retrieval Impacts

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This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
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NOAA’s Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) constellation will continue and expand on the capabilities of the current generation of geostationary satellite systems to support US weather, ocean, atmosphere, and climate operations. It is planned to consist of a dedicated atmospheric composition instrument (ACX) to support air quality forecasting and monitoring by providing similar capabilities to missions such as TEMPO (Tropospheric Emission: Monitoring Pollution), currently planned to launch in 2023, and Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), TROPOMI (TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument), and GEMS (Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer) currently in operation. As the early phases of ACX development are progressing, design trade-offs are being considered to understand the relationship between instrument design choices and trace gas retrieval impacts. Some of these choices will affect the instrument polarization sensitivity (PS), which can have radiometric impacts on environmental satellite observations. We conducted a study to investigate how such radiometric impacts can affect NO2 retrievals by exploring their sensitivities to time of day, location, and scene type with an ACX instrument model that incorporates PS. The study addresses the basic steps of operational NO2 retrievals: the spectral fitting step and the conversion of slant column to vertical column via the air mass factor (AMF). The spectral fitting step was performed by generating at-sensor radiance from a clear sky scene with a known NO2 amount, the application of an instrument model including both instrument PS and noise, and a physical retrieval. The spectral fitting step was found to mitigate the impacts of instrument PS. The AMF-related step was considered for clear sky and partially cloudy scenes, where instrument PS can lead to errors in interpreting the cloud content, propagating to AMF errors and finally to NO2 retrieval errors. For this step, the NO2 retrieval impacts were small but non-negligible for high NO2 amounts; we estimated that a typical high NO2 amount can cause a maximum retrieval error of 0.25 x 1015 molecules/cm2 for a PS of 5 %. These simulation capabilities were designed to aid in the development of a GeoXO atmospheric composition instrument that will improve our ability to monitor and understand the Earth’s atmosphere.