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USU Develops World’s Most Sensitive LiDAR

Utah State University hopes to soon be able to claim the world’s most sensitive LiDAR. This is not your grandmother’s LiDAR. The recently installed instrument is capable of projecting light 55 miles into the atmosphere. It is so powerful that you can “feel” the light – not the heat, but the power, if you are brave enough to put your arm into the beam.

The new unit replaces an atmospheric LiDAR that was in use from 1993-2004 at USU. The new one will have 70 times more sensitivity than its predecessor. “Anytime you can change a sensitivity by 10, that’s a big deal, and we’re doing it by about 70,” physics Professor Wickwar commented.

The first atmospheric LiDARs were developed back in the early 1900’s. They used large flashlights instead of lasers, which had not been invented, hence the term “light” detection and not “laser”.

1 Comment

  • Interesting bit of info about the flashlights, ‘light’ and the origin of the term lidar, i didn’t know that.

    I suppose the power of the light is what they intend harnessing to move solar sails in space?

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