NASA’s latest lidar to study earth’s forests in 3D

NASA’s latest lidar to study earth’s forests in 3D

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3D architecture of forests revealed by GEDI lidar. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight CenterUS, September 16, 2014: NASA will seek to map earth’s forests in 3D through its new Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar.

The GEDI lidar will be the first laser-based instrument to systematically probe the depths of forest from the space and the project is scheduled for completion in 2018.

GEDI will carry three specialized lasers and will use sophisticated optics to divide the three beams out into 14 tracks on the ground. Collectively, these tracks will be spaced 1,640 feet (500 meters) apart on the surface creating a total swathe width of about four miles.

The probe will sample all of the land between 50 degrees north latitude and 50 degrees south latitude this way, encompassing nearly all tropical and temperate forests. It is estimated to send out 16 billion pulses in one year.

The 3D view of forests derived from the new probe will offer vital information about the impact that trees have on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Bryan Blair, the deputy principal investigator for GEDI at Goddard said, “Lidar has the unique ability to peer into the tree canopy to precisely measure the height and internal structure of the forest at the fine scale required to accurately estimate their carbon content.”

Source: NASA