Earth Sciences – High Resolution Measurements of key Greenhouse Gases

NASA Earth Science vision for research aimed at the next 25 years and beyond has been set forth in the “2016 Lidar Technologies Review and Strategy” (LTRS), which summarizes and discusses needed capabilities for achieving NASA’s Earth science measurement goals.  It encompasses a broad range of technologies to meet the future needs of the Earth Science community, the nation and the world for improvements in precision and spectrum of measurements.

The 2016 LTRS also identifies a set of Strategic Areas of focus the represent research areas guiding NASA Earth Science’s response to requirements for improved space based measurement technologies.

One of the Strategic Areas of focus from the 2016 LTRS is “Achieve very high resolution measurements of key greenhouse gases, including CO, CO2, CH4, NO2, O3, and others: measure 3D tropospheric winds at unprecedented resolution.”   This area of focus seeks to enable the use of space based LIDAR systems and related technologies which create measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere with unprecedented fidelity.

An especially important consequence of laser technology development over the past decade is that fiber-laser average power capability now rivals that of traditional bulk solid-state systems, which is a distinct advantage in that all-fiber architectures are both compact, immune to misalignment, and typically exhibit higher wall-plug efficiency than conventional bulk solid-state lasers. The significance of these developments is that previously the restricted performance envelope of fiber-based lasers had ruled them out of consideration for measurement applications requiring high average power or moderate (i.e., ~mJ) pulse energy.

This area of focus topic seeks to identify promising developments that when incorporated with satellites and place into orbit will enable unprecedented precision and fidelity in the measurement of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Examples of technologies of interest include but are not limited to: high pulse repetition frequency transmitters, laser diodes, fiber lasers, improvement in detectors performance, radiation hardening, multi-element architectures, high quantum efficiency, low noise, low timing jitter, low afterpulsing.