Full-waveform Airborne and Spaceborne Laser Altimetry for Mapping and Sampling the Earth’s Forests, Cryosphere, and Land surfaces

Friday, 19 December 2014
James Bryan Blair1, Ralph Dubayah2, Michelle A Hofton2, Scott B Luthcke1, David Rabine1, Shane Wake1, Barry Coyle1, Paul Stysley1 and Cheryl Salerno1, (1)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (2)Univ Maryland, College Park, MD, United States
Laser altimetry is an established technique for providing precise and accurate measurements of topography, vegetation, ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice. The Land, Vegetation, and Ice Sensor (LVIS) is a wide swath, full-waveform laser altimeter that has been operational since the late 1990’s and has mapped 100,000’s of square kilometers around the globe. NASA is developing a Facility version of the LVIS sensor to make it more cost-effective and more easily available to the broader science community. Based heavily on the existing LVIS sensor, the Facility LVIS instrument includes numerous improvements for reliability, resolution, real-time performance monitoring, lower cost for integration and ops, and data consistency. Building upon the foundation provided by LVIS, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) Lidar was recently selected for funding as a part of NASA’s Earth Venture Program and will use multiple laser beams to measure high-resolution forest structure and surface topography from the International Space Station (ISS). Dependent on the funding profile and availability of launch options to ISS, GEDI could launch as early as 2018. Within a single year of operations GEDI will provide billions of vegetation height and structure measurements for the precise estimation of biomass within the orbital coverage provided by ISS (+/- 51.6 degrees latitude). GEDI uses the same high-SNR waveform measurement technique as the airborne LVIS sensor. LVIS will provide calibration and validation of GEDI’s on-orbit performance.