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Optical Engineering

Lidar in Space
Author(s): R. T. H. Collis; R. D. Hake; P. B. Russell; S. A. Bowhill
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Paper Abstract

The lidar (laser radar) technique of remotely observing atmospheric structure and composition is now ready for use on a space vehicle. Progress in lidar technology has led to the development of high performance, light-weight, compact and highly reliable basic systems. These could ensure successful mapping of clouds and aerosols by elastic backscattering and offer high promise of opening up a range of more sophisticated observations using wavelength-specific techniques (resonant scattering, differential absorption and Doppler). The Spacelab program provides an ideal facility for initiating and exploring this concept, since it makes possible development on a short-trip, minimum-investment basis. The goals, philosophy and rationale of a proposed program to accomplish the first use of lidar in space are described, and details are provided of the specific observations proposed and of the necessary instrumentation. Using a solid-state neodymium laser, frequency doubled to drive a tunable, doubled dye laser, energy could be transmitted at a range of wavelengths (1060 nm, 589 nm, 530 nm and 279.6 nm). With simple wavelength-discriminating photometric detectors the system could be used to detect returns from particles (cloud and dust) or Na atoms or Mg+ ions. The value of a capability to make such observations is noted in terms of their meteorological and aeronomical significance.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 February 1978
PDF: 7 pages
Opt. Eng. 17(1) 170123 doi: 10.1117/12.7972174
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 17, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
R. T. H. Collis, SRI International (United States)
R. D. Hake, SRI International (United States)
P. B. Russell, SRI International (United States)
S. A. Bowhill, University of Illinois (United States)


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