The MODIS instrument provides high radiometric sensitivity (12 bit) in 36 spectral bands ranging in wavelength from 0.4 µm to 14.4 µm. The responses are custom tailored to the individual needs of the user community and provide exceptionally low out-of-band response. Two bands are imaged at a nominal resolution of 250 m at nadir, with five bands at 500 m, and the remaining 29 bands at 1 km. A ±55-degree scanning pattern at the EOS orbit of 705 km achieves a 2,330-km swath and provides global coverage every one to two days.
The Scan Mirror Assembly uses a continuously rotating double-sided scan mirror to scan ±55-degrees and is driven by a motor encoder built to operate at 100 percent duty cycle throughout the 6-year instrument design life. The optical system consists of a two-mirror off-axis afocal telescope, which directs energy to four refractive objective assemblies; one for each of the VIS, NIR, SWIR/MWIR and LWIR spectral regions to cover a total spectral range of 0.4 to 14.4 µm.
A high-performance passive radiative cooler provides cooling to 83K for the 20 infrared spectral bands on two HgCdTe Focal Plane Assemblies (FPAs). Novel photodiode-silicon readout technology for the visible and near infrared provide unsurpassed quantum efficiency and low-noise readout with exceptional dynamic range. Analog programmable gain and offset and FPA clock and bias electronics are located near the FPAs in two dedicated electronics modules, the Space-viewing Analog Module (SAM) and the Forward-viewing Analog Module (FAM) . A third module, the Main Electronics Module (MEM) provides power, control systems, command and telemetry, and calibration electronics.
The system also includes four on-board calibrators as well as a view to space: a Solar Diffuser (SD), a v-groove Blackbody (BB), a Spectroradiometric calibration assembly (SRCA), and a Solar Diffuser Stability Monitor (SDSM).
The first MODIS Flight Instrument, ProtoFlight Model or PFM, is integrated on the Terra (EOS AM-1) spacecraft. Terra successfully launched on December 18, 1999. The second MODIS flight instrument, Flight Model 1 or FM1, is inegrated on the Aqua (EOS PM-1) spacecraft; it was successfully launched on May 4, 2002. These MODIS instruments will offer an unprecedented look at terrestrial, atmospheric, and ocean phenomenology for a wide and diverse community of users throughout the world.
(Design concept from the official NASA MODIS web site at the Goddard Space Flight Center at http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/about/design.php)