Barry Rice

- doing science on a terrestrial planet -

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LiDAR, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, LiDAR is not the name of a satellite. Instead, it is the application of a technology that uses a radar technology to measure the distance from the active detector to the object being studied. Wavelength-data (i.e. multispectral or hyperspectral) data is not gathered. This is different from Rangefinders in that instead of a single distance value, LiDAR develops a two-dimensional field of distance values. As a result, a topographical map of the reflecting surface can be drawn.

Current LiDAR applications are sensors that are flown on low-altitude aircraft. A NASA satellite program was designed, called VCL (a meta-acronym meaning Vegetation Canopy LiDAR), but this program was scrubbed. It was to operate at 1064nm, with a resolution of 25 meters, and a vertical accuracy of 1 meter.

I have encountered several references to ongoing or future LiDAR papers concerned with invasive species detection. However, none have seemed to provide any compelling detection tools that will be useful to wildland management. I hope that having written these "fighting words", someone working with LiDAR and invasive species will come forth with a counter example.

In contrast with LiDAR, "SRTM" is indeed a remote sensing platform that was carried by the US Space Shuttle. For more information on this remote sensing device, look here.


4 February 2009