LIDAR IN IEEE FORMAT.docx
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Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) have recently become the technologies of choice in mass production of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), Digital Terrain Models (DTMs), and Triangulated Irregular Networks (TINs), referred to generically hereafter as DEMs. This paper presents lessons learned from LIDAR projects to date in various states. It addresses opportunities presented by LIDAR for generating DEMs as articulated by various user groups in the National Height Modernization Study. Finally, it summarizes actions required by the remote sensing community to establish LIDAR as standard tools, with established standards, for generating digital elevation data for the new millennium.
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other information of a distant target. The prevalent method to determine distance to an object or surface is to use laser pulses. Like the similar radar technology, which uses radio waves, the range to an object is determined by measuring the time delay between transmission of a pulse and detection of the reflected signal. LIDAR technology has application geometrics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology,forestry, remote sensing and atmospheric physics. Applications of LIDAR include ALSM (Airborne Laser Swath Mapping), laser altimetry or LIDAR Contour Mapping. The acronym LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging) is often used in military contexts. The term laser radar is also in use but is misleading because it uses laser light and not the radiowaves that are the basis of conventional radar.
II. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
The primary difference between LIDAR and RADAR is LIDAR uses much shorter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, typically in the ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared range. In general it is possible to image a feature or object only about the same size as the wavelength, or larger. Thus LIDAR is highly sensitive to aerosols and cloud particles and has many applications in atmospheric research and meteorology.
An object needs to produce a dielectric discontinuity to reflect the transmitted wave. At radar (microwave or radio) frequencies, a metallic object produces a significant reflection. However non-metallic objects, such as rain and rocks produce weaker reflections and some materials may produce no detectable reflection at all, meaning some objects or features are effectively invisible at radar frequencies. This is especially true for very small objects (such as single molecules and aerosols).
Lasers provide one solution to these problems. The beam densities and coherency are excellent. Moreover the wavelengths are much smaller than can be achieved with radio systems, and range from about 10 micrometers to the UV (ca. 250 nm). At such wavelengths, the waves are "reflected" very well from small objects. This type of reflection is called backscattering. Different types of scattering are used for different LIDAR applications, most common are Rayleigh scattering, Mie scattering and Raman scattering as well as fluorescence. Based on different kinds of backscattering, the LIDAR can be accordingly called Rayleigh LIDAR, Mie LIDAR, Raman LIDAR and Na/Fe/K Fluorescence LIDAR and so on. The wavelengths are ideal for making measurements of smoke and other airborne particles (aerosols), clouds, and air molecules.
A laser typically has a very narrow beam which allows the mapping of physical features with very high resolution compared with radar. In addition, many chemical compounds interact more strongly at visible wavelengths than at microwaves, resulting in a stronger image of these materials. Suitable combinations of lasers can allow for remote mapping of atmospheric contents by looking for wavelength-dependent changes in the intensity of the returned signal.
LIDAR has been used extensively for atmospheric research and meteorology. With the deployment of the GPS in the 1980s precision positioning of aircraft became possible. GPS based surveying technology has made airborne surveying and mapping applications possible and practical. Many have been developed, using downward-looking LIDAR instruments mounted in aircraft or satellites. A recent example is the NASA Experimental Advanced Research LIDAR.
A basic LIDAR system involves a laser range finder reflected by a rotating mirror (top). The laser is scanned around the scene being digitized, in one or two dimensions (middle), gathering distance measurements at specified angle intervals (bottom).
In general there are two kinds of LIDAR detection schema: "incoherent" or direct energy detection (which is principally an amplitude measurement) and Coherent detection (which is best for Doppler, or phase sensitive measurements). Coherent systems generally use Optical heterodyne detection which being more sensitive than direct detection allows them to operate a much lower power but at the expense of more complex transceiver requirements.
In both coherent and incoherent LIDAR, there are two types of pulse models: MICROPULSE LIDAR systems and high energy systems. Micropulse systems have developed as a result of the ever increasing amount of computer power available combined with advances in laser technology. They use considerably less energy in the laser, typically on the order of one microjoule, and are often "eye-safe," meaning they can be used without safety precautions. High-power systems are common in atmospheric research, where they are widely used for measuring many atmospheric parameters: the height, layering and densities of clouds, cloud particle properties (extinction coefficient, backscatter coefficient, depolarization), temperature, pressure, wind, humidity, trace gas concentration (ozone, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.).
On a functional level, LiDAR is typically defined as the integration of three technologies into a single system capable of acquiring data to produce accurate digital elevation models (DEMs). These technologies are lasers, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and inertial navigation systems (INS). Combined, they allow the positioning of the footprint of a laser beam as it hits an object, to a high degree of accuracy. Lasers themselves are very accurate in their rang¬ing capabilities, and can provide distances ac¬curate to a few centimeters. The accuracy limi¬tations of LiDAR systems are due primarily to the GPS and IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) compo¬nents. As advancements in commercially avail¬able GPS and IMUs occur, it is becoming possible to obtain a high degree of accuracy using LiDAR from moving platforms such as aircraft.ALiDAR system combines a single narrow-beam laser with a receiver system. The laser produces an optical pulse that is transmitted, reflected off an object, and returned to the receiver. The re¬ceiver accurately measures the travel time of the pulse from its start to its return. With the pulse trav¬elling at the speed of light, the receiver senses the return pulse before the next pulse is sent out. Since the speed of light is known, the travel time can be converted to a range measurement. Combining the laser range, laser scan angle, la¬ser position from GPS, and laser orientation from INS, accurate x, y, z ground coordinates can be calculated for each laser pulse.
Laser emission rates can be anywhere from a few pulses per second to tens of thousands of pulses per sec¬ond. Thus, large volumes of points are collected. For example, a laser emitting pulses at 10,000 times per second will record 600,000 points every minute. Typical raw laser point spacing on the ground ranges from 2 to 4 meters.
Some LiDAR systems can record “multiple re¬turns” from the same pulse. In such systems the beam may hit leaves at the top of tree canopy, while part of the beam travels further and may hit more leaves or branches. Some of the beam is then likely to hit the ground and be reflected back, ending up with a set of recorded “multiple returns” each having an x, y, z position. This fea¬ture can be advantageous when the application calls for elevations for not only the ground, but for tree or building heights. As surface types and characteristics vary and change the laser beam’s reflectivity, then the ability of the LiDAR to record the return signals changes. For example, a laser used for topo¬graphic applications will not penetrate water, and in fact records very little data even for the surface of the body of water. Where the appli¬cation calls for a laser to penetrate water to de¬termine x, y, z positions of undersea features, then a slightly different variation of LiDAR technology is used
There are several major components to a LIDAR system:
1. Laser — 600-1000 nm lasers are most common for non-scientific applications. They are inexpensive but since they can be focused and easily absorbed by the eye the maximum power is limited by the need to make them eye-safe. Eye-safety is often a requirement for most applications. A common alternative 1550 nm lasers are eye-safe at much higher power levels since this wavelength is not focused by the eye, but the detector technology is less advanced and so these wavelengths are generally used at longer ranges and lower accuracies. They are also used for military applications as 1550 nm is not visible in night vision goggles unlike the shorter 1000 nm infrared laser. Airborne topographic mapping LIDARS generally use 1064 nm diode pumped YAG lasers, while bathymetric systems generally use 532 nm frequency doubled diode pumped YAG lasers because 532 nm penetrates water with much less attenuation than does 1064 nm. Laser settings include the laser repetition rate (which controls the data collection speed). Pulse length is generally an attribute of the laser cavity length, the number of passes required through the gain material (YAG, YLF, etc.), and Q-switch speed. Better target resolution is achieved with shorter pulses, provided the LIDAR receiver detectors and electronics have sufficient bandwidth.
2. Scanner and optics — How fast images can be developed is also affected by the speed at which it can be scanned into the system. There are several options to scan the azimuth and elevation, including dual oscillating plane mirrors, a combination with a polygon mirror, a dual axis scanner. Optic choices affect the angular resolution and range that can be detected. A hole mirror or a beam splitter are options to collect a return signal.
3. Photodetector and receiver electronics — two main photodetector technologies are used in lidars: solid state photodetectors, such as silicon avalanche photodiodes, or photomultipliers. The sensitivity of the receiver is another parameter that has to be balanced in a LIDAR design.
4. Position and navigation systems — LIDAR sensors that are mounted on mobile platforms such as airplanes or satellites require instrumentation to determine the absolute position and orientation of the sensor. Such devices generally include a Global Positioning System receiver and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU).
This LIDAR-equipped mobile robot uses its LIDAR to construct a map and avoid obstacles.
Other than those applications listed above, there are a wide variety of applications of LIDAR, as often mentioned in Dataset programs.
LIDAR has many applications in the field of archaeology including aiding in the planning of field campaigns, mapping features beneath forest canopy, and providing an overview of broad, continuous features that may be indistinguishable on the ground. LIDAR can also provide archaeologists with the ability to create high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) of archaeological sites that can reveal micro-topography that are otherwise hidden by vegetation. LIDAR-derived products can be easily integrated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) for analysis and interpretation. For example at Fort Beausejour - Fort Cumberland National Historic Site, Canada, previously undiscovered archaeological features have been mapped that are related to the siege of the Fort in 1755. Features that could not be distinguished on the ground or through aerial photography were identified by overlaying hill shades of the DEM created with artificial illumination from various angles.
With LIDAR the ability to produce high-resolution datasets quickly and relatively cheaply can be an advantage. Beyond efficiency, its ability to penetrate forest canopy has led to the discovery of features that were not distinguishable through traditional geo-spatial methods and are difficult to reach through field surveys.
METEOROLOGY AND ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT
The first LIDARs were used for studies of atmospheric composition, structure, clouds, and aerosols. Initially based on ruby lasers, LIDARs for meteorological applications were constructed shortly after the invention of the laser and represent one of the first applications of laser technology.
Elastic backscatter LIDAR is the simplest type of LIDAR and is typically used for studies of aerosols and clouds. The backscattered wavelength is identical to the transmitted wavelength, and the magnitude of the received signal at a given range depends on the backscatter coefficient of scatterers at that range and the extinction coefficients of the scatterers along the path to that range. The extinction coefficient is typically the quantity of interest.
Differential Absorption LIDAR (DIAL) is used for range-resolved measurements of a particular gas in the atmosphere, such as ozone, carbon dioxide, or water vapor. The LIDAR transmits two wavelengths: an "on-line" wavelength that is absorbed by the gas of interest and an off-line wavelength that is not absorbed. The differential absorption between the two wavelengths is a measure of the concentration of the gas as a function of range. DIAL LIDARs are essentially dual-wavelength elastic backscatter LIDARS.
Raman LIDAR is also used for measuring the concentration of atmospheric gases, but can also be used to retrieve aerosol parameters as well. Raman LIDAR exploits inelastic scattering to single out the gas of interest from all other atmospheric constituents. A small portion of the energy of the transmitted light is deposited in the gas during the scattering process, which shifts the scattered light to a longer wavelength by an amount that is unique to the species of interest. The higher the concentration of the gas, the stronger the magnitude of the backscattered signal.
Doppler LIDAR is used to measure wind speed along the beam by measuring the frequency shift of the backscattered light. Scanning LIDARs, such as NASA's HARLIE LIDAR, have been used to measure atmospheric wind velocity in a large three dimensional cone. ESA's wind mission ADM-Aeolus will be equipped with a Doppler LIDAR system in order to provide global measurements of vertical wind profiles. A Doppler LIDAR system was used in the 2008 Summer Olympics to measure wind fields during the yacht competition. Doppler LIDAR systems are also now beginning to be successfully applied in the renewable energy sector to acquire wind speed, turbulence, wind veer and wind shear data. Both pulsed and continuous wave systems are being used. Pulsed systems using signal timing to obtain vertical distance resolution, whereas continuous wave systems rely on detector focusing.
In geology and seismology a combination of aircraft-based LIDAR and GPS have evolved into an important tool for detecting faults and measuring uplift. The output of the two technologies can produce extremely accurate elevation models for terrain that can even measure ground elevation through trees. This combination was used most famously to find the location of the Seattle in Washington, USA. This combination is also being used to measure uplift at Mt. St. Helens by using data from before and after the 2004 uplift. Airborne LIDAR systems monitor glaciers and have the ability to detect subtle amounts of growth or decline. A satellite based system is NASA's ICESat which includes a LIDAR system for this purpose. NASA's Airborne Topographic Mapper is also used extensively to monitor glaciers and perform coastal change analysis.