The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is a major instrument for NASA's Earth Observing
System (EOS), currently operating on-board the EOS Terra spacecraft, launched in December 1999, and Aqua
spacecraft, launched in May 2002. MODIS is a whiskbroom scanning radiometer using a double-sided paddle wheel
scan mirror. It makes measurements in 36 spectral bands with wavelengths from visible (VIS) to long-wave infrared
(LWIR). Bands 20-25 and 27-36 are the thermal emissive bands (TEB) covering wavelengths from 3.5 to 14.4μm.
During pre-launch thermal vacuum measurements, a laboratory blackbody calibration source (BCS) was used as the
primary calibration source for the TEB. For on-orbit operation, an on-board blackbody (BB) source and a space view
(SV) port are used together for the TEB calibration on a scan-by-scan basis. This paper provides an overview of Terra
and Aqua MODIS pre-launch and on-orbit calibration and characterization activities, methodologies, data analysis
results, and lessons learned for the thermal emissive bands. It focuses on major issues that could impact MODIS TEB
calibration and data quality. Results presented in this paper include detector noise characterization, response versus scan
angle (RVS), and response versus instrument and focal plane temperatures. Similar discussions for the MODIS reflective
solar bands (RSB) are presented in a separate paper in these proceedings (Xiong et. al).