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An experimental method to select the number of principal components in minimum noise fraction (MNF) is proposed to process images measured by imagery sensors onboard aircraft or satellites. The method is based on an experimental measurement by spectrometers in dark conditions from which noise structure can be estimated. To represent typical land conditions and atmospheric variability, a significative data set of synthetic noise-free images based on real Multispectral Infrared and Visible Imaging Spectrometer images is built. To this purpose, a subset of spectra is selected within some public libraries that well represent the simulated images. By coupling these synthetic images and estimated noise, the optimal number of components in MNF can be obtained. In order to have an objective (fully data driven) procedure, some criteria are proposed, and the results are validated to estimate the number of components without relying on ancillary data. The whole procedure is made computationally feasible by some simplifications that are introduced. A comparison with a state-of-the-art algorithm for estimating the optimal number of components is also made.