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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

LIDAR technology for measuring trace gases on Mars and Earth
Author(s): H. Riris; J. B. Abshire; Allan Graham; William Hasselbrack; Mike Rodriguez; Xiaoli Sun; Clark Weaver; Jianping Mao; Randy Kawa; Steve Li; Kenji Numata; Stewart Wu

Paper Abstract

Trace gases and their isotopic ratios in planetary atmospheres offer important but subtle clues as to the origins of a planet's atmosphere, hydrology, geology, and potential for biology. An orbiting laser remote sensing instrument is capable of measuring trace gases on a global scale with unprecedented accuracy, and higher spatial resolution that can be obtained by passive instruments.

For Earth we have developed laser technique for the remote measurement of the tropospheric CO2, O2, and CH4 concentrations from space. Our goal is to develop a space instrument and mission approach for active CO2 measurements. Our technique uses several on and off-line wavelengths tuned to the CO2 and O2 absorption lines. This exploits the atmospheric pressure broadening of the gas lines to weigh the measurement sensitivity to the atmospheric column below 5 km and maximizes sensitivity to CO2 changes in the boundary layer where variations caused by surface sources and sinks are largest. Simultaneous measurements of O2 column use a selected region in the Oxygen A-band. Laser altimetry and atmospheric backscatter can also be measured simultaneously, which permits determining the surface height and measurements made to thick cloud tops and through aerosol layers.

We use the same technique but with a different transmitter at 1.65 um to measure methane concentrations. Methane is also a very important trace gas on earth, and a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2 on a per molecule basis. Accurate, global observations are needed in order to better understand climate change and reduce the uncertainty in the carbon budget. Although carbon dioxide is currently the primary greenhouse gas of interest, methane can have a much larger impact on climate change. Methane levels have remained relatively constant over the last decade but recent observations in the Arctic have indicated that levels may be on the rise due to permafrost thawing. NASA’s Decadal Survey underscored the importance of Methane as a greenhouse gas and called for a mission to measure CO2, CO and CH4. Methane has absorptions in the mid-infrared (3.3 um) and the near infrared (1.65 um). The 3.3 um spectral region is ideal for planetary (Mars) Methane monitoring, but unfortunately is not suitable for earth monitoring since the Methane absorption lines are severely interfered with by water. The near infra-red overtones of Methane at 1.65 um are relatively free of interference from other atmospheric species and are suitable for Earth observations. The methane instrument uses Optical Parametric Generation (OPG) along with sensitive detectors to achieve the necessary sensitivity. Our instrument generates and detects tunable laser signals in the 3.3 or 1.65 um spectral regions with different detectors in order to measure methane on Earth or Mars. For Mars, the main interest in methane is its importance as a biogenic marker.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 November 2017
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 10565, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2010, 105650G (20 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2309207
Show Author Affiliations
H. Riris, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
J. B. Abshire, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Allan Graham, Sigma Space (United States)
William Hasselbrack, Sigma Space (United States)
Mike Rodriguez, Sigma Space (United States)
Xiaoli Sun, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Clark Weaver, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Jianping Mao, Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County (United States)
Randy Kawa, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Steve Li, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Kenji Numata, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Stewart Wu, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10565:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2010
Errico Armandillo; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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