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New Generation Lidar Technology and ApplicationsLidar has been a tool for atmospheric research for several decades. Until recently routine operational use of lidar was not known. Problems have involved a lack of appropriate technology rather than a lack of applications. Within the last few years, lidar based on a new generation of solid state lasers and detectors have changed the situation. Operational applications for cloud and aerosol research applications are now well established. In these research applications, the direct height profiling capability of lidar is typically an adjunct to other types of sensing, both passive and active. Compact eye safe lidar with the sensitivity for ground based monitoring of all significant cloud and aerosol structure and the reliability to operate full time for several years is now in routine use. The approach is known as micro pulse lidar (MPL). For MPL the laser pulse repetition rate is in the kilohertz range and the pulse energies are in the micro-Joule range. The low pulse energy permits the systems to be eye safe and reliable with solid state lasers. A number of MPL systems have been deployed since 1992 at atmospheric research sites at a variety of global locations. Accurate monitoring of cloud and aerosol vertical distribution is a critical measurement for atmospheric radiation. An airborne application of lidar cloud and aerosol profiling is retrievals of parameters from combined lidar and passive sensing involving visible, infrared and microwave frequencies. A lidar based on a large pulse, solid state diode pumped ND:YAG laser has been deployed on the NASA ER-2 high altitude research aircraft along with multi-spectral visible/IR and microwave imaging radiometers since 1993. The system has shown high reliability in an extensive series of experimental projects for cloud remote sensing. The retrieval of cirrus radiation parameters is an effective application for combined lidar and passive sensing. An approved NASA mission will soon begin long term lidar observation of atmospheric structure from space. The Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) of the Earth Observing System is scheduled for deployment in the 2001 time frame. GLAS is both a cloud and aerosol lidar and a surface altimeter, principally for monitoring of polar ice sheets. The GLAS instrument is based on all solid state lasers operating at 40 Hz and high efficiency, solid state detectors. The design lifetime is three to five years. Data from the GLAS mission is expected to revolutionize some aspects of our understanding of the global distribution of cloud and aerosols for global climate prediction.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Spinhirne, James D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Instrumentation and Photography
Meeting Information
PIERS 1999(Taipei)
Distribution Limits