Shortly after the invention of the laser, Hughes Aircraft Company launched the first LiDAR system for satellite tracking in 1961.
From an article in All About Circuits by Jake Hertz.
In recent years, however, LiDAR development has been catalyzed by the growth of autonomous cars, resulting in smaller, more powerful, and more affordable LiDAR solutions than ever before. Beyond autonomous cars, LiDAR technology has found applications in a variety of use cases, from meteorology to archeology.
NASA Measures Snow Depth With LiDAR
LiDAR’s first widespread applications were in meteorology. In particular, the National Center for Atmospheric Research often used LiDAR to monitor clouds and measure pollution. NASA still employs LiDAR for meteorological purposes, tracking global climate from space.
One historical challenge, however, has been measuring snow depth from space; conventional camera systems cannot provide much information about depth within an image. To address this problem, NASA scientists have turned to LiDAR. On April 20, 2022, a team of scientists announced a method to directly measure snow depth using LiDAR measurements from the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2).
When a photon enters snow, it bounces around and is scattered until it is eventually collected again by the ICESat-2. Creating a model of this behavior, the researchers developed a unique equation that can find the average distance a photon travels inside the snow before it is eventually measured by the LiDAR. The depth of the snow is equal to half of that average distance.
Using this new technique, NASA scientists claim that ICESat-2 provides a more advanced monitoring solution and data about the impact of climate change on the ice caps.
For the complete article on the invention of the laser CLICK HERE.
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