Ushering in a New Era of Spaceborne Laser Altimetry and Its Dependence on Satellite Geodesy
We are at the forefront of ushering in an exciting new era of spaceborne laser altimetry with the recent launches of two of NASA’s most advanced satellite laser altimeters. The Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter (ATLAS) was launched aboard the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite 2 on September 15, 2018, while the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) instrument was launched to the International Space Station on Dec. 4th, 2018. The latest in NASA’s satellite laser altimeter technology, these missions will deliver an enormous magnitude of surface elevation and surface structure observations that will significantly advance our understanding of land ice evolution, sea ice extent and thickness, surface water hydrology, global vegetation cover, biomass, and also contributing to our understanding of coastal oceanography, surface topography, and the land/ocean interface. While complementary, the two missions employ different technology, each tuned to their primary science goals. The differing technology approaches and the temporal and spatial overlap provide a unique opportunity for inter-mission calibration and validation. Common to these two missions is their dependence on satellite geodesy for the fundamental geolocation of the surface returns. This talk will give an overview of ICESat-2 and GEDI early orbit performance, and will specifically focus on the dependence and importance of satellite geodesy in meeting the mission requirements.