In November 2017, the China Meteorological Administration launched a new polar orbiting satellite in its Fengyun (FY) series: FY-3D. With its main purpose being the collection of meteorological data, FY-3D featured a comprehensive payload that is equally exploitable by various Earth Science disciplines. One of its sensors, the MEdium Resolution Spectral Imager-2 (MERSI-2), provides visible and infrared imagery at spatial resolutions of 250 – 1000 m. These characteristics make MERSI-2 suitable for volcanological remote sensing and make it comparable to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors which themselves, have been widely used in volcanological applications. This paper evaluates the first clear and near-coincident MODIS – MERSI-2 images of Mount Etna (Italy) during an active volcanic phase in 2019 and in turn, provides the first assessment of MERSI-2’s utility in observing volcanic activity in the Thermal InfraRed (TIR). To ensure the comparability of both scenes, data from each were converted to Land Surface Temperature (LST) and comparisons were encouraging, with an r2 of 0.92, a mean temperature discrepancy of 0.26 K and a root mean squared error of 0.75 K. Having ascertained comparability, we focussed on the absolute temperatures detected at the eruption site, with the highest being 317.3 K and 328.1 K for MODIS and MERSI-2, respectively. The 20 minute gap between the acquisitions is the most likely the cause of this temperature discrepancy, suggesting variations in lava effusion rates and activity were occurring at Mount Etna over such timescales. This study confirms the applicability of MERSI-2 for observing volcanic activity and emphasises the significance of TIR volcanic monitoring and the importance that additional spaceborne platforms might have in reducing temporal gaps between image acquisitions. Given its unique characteristics, future studies should investigate the applicability of MERSI-2 in more varied volcanic settings.
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- Thermal Infrared