I remember being asked if LiDAR could be used from a satellite. I think I said I did not think so – wrong. Chief technologist Upendra Singh at the NASA Langley Research Center is demonstrating that his Doppler Aerosol Wind, or DAWN, lidar can be used to help compile a 3-D profile of wind and revolutionize severe weather forecasting, especially hurricane prediction and tracking. DAWN measures wind speed and direction by tracking dust and other particles at different heights.
Singh and scientist Grady Koch showed NASA Chief Bolden a graph of wind fields offshore Virginia compiled a year ago using a land-based lidar beamed over the Atlantic.
“First, it’s really windy out there,” Koch said of the results. “And the other thing is, there’s a lot of variation. It’s a pretty complex wind area.
“Yet a better understanding of that complexity, said Singh is “very beneficial for people who want to harness wind out of this area.”
Bolden said these projects fall under NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, which comprises a budget of just over half a billion dollars.
“If you compare that to the amount of money we spend in everything else in the agency, or anywhere else in government, it’s minuscule,” Bolden said. “And yet this is contributing to the largest balance of trade items in all of the United States — aviation, airplanes, aviation products and safety.”