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Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar _EAARL-3

Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar _EAARL-3

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Published by Vincent J. Cataldi

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Vincent J. Cataldi on May 06, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Decision Support for Coastal Science and Management
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Overview & Objectives 
Technology 
EAARL ALPS ATRIS ADAPT Deep ATRIS 
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EAARL CIR ImageryMosaic ADAPT SoftwareDevelopment LidarBasedVegetationMetrics Publication of LidarData LidarTopographyMapping Volumetric ChangeAnalysis LidarVegetationDelineation Predicting VegetationPresence usingLidar CoralReef Applications LidarRugosityMapping NPSBenthicMappingProtocol Barrier IslandGeomorphology 
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Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar(EAARL)
Introduction
Figure 1. EAARL Sy[Enlargement]
The Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) is anairborne lidar system that provides unique capabilities to survey coralreefs, nearshore benthic habitats, coastal vegetation, and sandybeaches (Wright and Brock, 2002). Operating in the blue-greenportion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the EAARL is specificallydesigned to measure submerged topography and adjacent coastalland elevations seamlessly in a single scan of transmitted laserpulses.Four main features separate the EAARL from traditional airbornebathymetric lidar:1.
 
a relatively short (1.3 ns) laser pulse2.
 
a radically narrowed receiver field-of-view (FOV)(1.5-2 mrad)3.
 
digitized signal temporal backscatter amplitude waveforms4.
 
software as opposed to hardware implementation of real-time signal-processinelementsThe short pulse and narrow FOV are beneficial in coastal sub-aerial and submergedenvironments to determine bare-Earth topography under short vegetation, as well asriverine environments where large changes in topography occur over a very small arsmall receiver field-of-view (FOV) rejects ambient light and scattered photons from twater column and bottom-reflected backscatter (Feygels et al. 2003), thereby ensurirelatively high contrast and short duration of the bottom return signal. The EAARL sycan accommodate a large signal dynamic range, thereby making it suited to mappingtopography over a variety of reflective surfaces in the coastal zone, ranging from brigsand to dark submerged sea-bottom.
 
Design Considerations
EAARL uses a very low-power, eye-safe laser pulse, in comparison to a traditionalbathymetric lidar system that allows for a much higher pulse-repetition frequency (Psignificantly less laser energy per pulse (approximately 1/70th) than do most bathym
 
lidars. The laser transmitter produces up to 10,000 short-duration (1.3 ns), low-pow
µJ), 532
-nm-wavelength pulses each second. The energy of each laser pulse is focusan area roughly 20 cm in diameter when operating at a 300-m altitude. Based upon tflights over typical Caribbean coral reef environments, EAARL has demonstrated peneto greater than 25 m, and can routinely map coral reefs ranging in depth from 0.5 tobelow the water surface.The EAARL system uses a "digitizer only" design, which eliminates all hardware-basespeed front-end electronics, start/stop detectors, time-interval units, range gates, ettypically found in lidar systems. The EAARL system instead uses an array of four highwaveform digitizers connected to an array of four sub-nanosecond photo-detectors.Real-time software is used to implement the system functions normally done in hardEach photo-detector receives a fraction of the returning laser backscattered photons.most sensitive channel receives 90% of the photons, the least sensitive receives 0.9the middle channel receives 9%. The fourth channel is available for either water Ram1064-nm infrared backscatter depending on the application. All four channels are digisynchronously with digitization beginning a few nanoseconds before the laser is triggand ending as long as 16,000 ns later. A small portion of the outgoing laser pulse issampled by fiber optic and injected in front of one of the photo-detectors to capture tactual shape, timing, and amplitude of the laser pulse shortly after it is generated. Thbackscattered laser energy for each laser pulse is digitized into 65,536 samples, resuover 150 million digital measurements being taken every second.The resulting waveforms are partially analyzed in real time to locate the key featuresas the digitized transmit pulse, the first return, and the last return. The real-time waprocessor automatically adapts to each laser return waveform and retains only the reportions of the waveform for recording. Thus, the storage space required for returnstall trees or deep water is more than the storage requirement for beach or shallow wbackscatter. In addition to the lidar, the EAARL sensor suite includes a digital three-bcolor infrared camera, a red-green-blue (RGB) digital camera, a dynamically tuned InMeasurement Unit (IMU), and precision kinematic Global Positioning System (GPS) rethat together provide for sub-meter geo-referencing of each laser and photographic
NASA EAARL System Specifications
 
Total system weight: 250 lbs.Maximum power requirement: 28 VDC at 24 ampsNominal surveying altitude: 300 m AGLRaster scan rate: 97 knots (50 m/s)

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