NASA’s Double Pulse Laser- LiDAR to Study CO2

NASA’s Double Pulse Laser- LiDAR to Study CO2

In recent news, a team of engineers at NASA Langley Research Center has developed world’s first double-pulsed laser system that make measurements of CO2 with highest degree of accuracy, all over the planet from an airborne platform.

LiDAR is an acronym for Light Detection And Ranging. A LiDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.

Today most researchers are using passive remote sensing technique that measures CO2. The new Integrated Path Differential Absorption (IPDA) LiDAR instrument eliminates restriction of passive remote sensing. The new system is all weather and all day system.


“We have achieved all the things which we ever even dreamed about, so we are giddy,” said Upendra Singh, associate director of the center’s engineering directorate.

“And we have so much quality data that I’ve never seen this kind of data, and I’ve been in LiDAR for 30 years.”

The IPDA system, said Yu, directs two pulses from a 2-micron, eye-safe laser from as high as 28,000 feet toward a range of weather conditions and terrains — ocean, bay water, sand, snow, forests, soil, vegetation, urban environments such as a power plant and highways, etc.

The pulses are rapid-fire at 10 per second. Once they hit their target, they bounce back to the plane.

By measuring the infinitesimal difference in return between the two pulses, called the differential absorption LiDAR technique, the engineers can determine the amount of carbon dioxide in the air column. Carbon dioxide absorbs laser light, so the higher the CO2 concentration, the smaller the return.

It’s a highly complicated system, but the team nailed it on the first flight. They’ve made nine flights so far.

“We’re very happy with it,” said Yu. “This is a beautiful signal.”

Source: DP

Categories: Remote Sensing

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