The Laser imaging Detecting And Ranging (LiDAR) technology uses laser pulses to determine the distance to an object. The technology is comparable to radar, but where radar uses radar waves, LiDAR uses light waves. Since the wavelength of laser light is much shorter than radar waves, LiDAR is able to detect much smaller object. Also, its short wave length makes LiDAR relatively insensitive to surface vegetation. Because a part of the laser light will always be able to penetrate the vegetation and reach the surface, it can be used to calculate vegetation density, CO2 storage in rainforests and to detect overgrown ruins in densely forrested or barren areas. Other applications are 3D elevation models of areas with dense vegetation, velocity measurement and the periodic measurement of the polar ice cap and glaciers.
How does it work?
LiDAR works according to the same prinicples as radar: a transmitted laser beam is reflected by an object and after a while returns to receiver. The speed of the laser beam and the time span between transmission and reception determine the distance to te object. Since the laser beam stays strongly bundled, it's possible to make a surface or relief scan of an object or area by gathering data from different angles. The velocity is determined with the Doppler effect.
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