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The interaction of the atmosphere with the solar radiation reflected from the Earths surface heavily affects the remotely sensed images acquired by passive optical sensors. In order to obtain unbiased estimations of the surface reflectance, the above image degradation and radiometric distortion of the acquired data must be corrected, an operation which is called atmospheric correction often. Knowing the local parameters of the Earth atmosphere is therefore necessary for performing any atmospheric correction procedure, moreover this knowledge also is important for many environmental studies and remote sensing applications. In this paper a direct method of estimating the atmospheric optical depth (direct transmittance) using images acquired by the sensor CHRIS is discussed. The estimation of the optical depth is possible since this instrument is able to acquire up to five overlapping images of the same ground location observed under different sightlines. In such a way, this method allows us to estimate the atmospheric optical depth for twelve spectral channels of the CHRIS spectrometer. Such estimates can be used either for an optimal tuning of the atmospheric correction algorithm or to assess the state of the atmosphere.