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Leaders in Lidar | Chapter 1: The Laser Is Better

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In this series, we dive into the legacy of Goddard's lead role in developing laser altimetry, which has revolutionized the way we map our planet, the Moon and other planets. Each chapter looks at the successes and failures of these lidar instruments, beginning with the Mars Observer Laser Altimeter (MOLA) in the late 1980s, through the current generation of laser altimeters on ICESat-2 and GEDI. Through dozens of interviews and archival footage, the history, challenges and legacy of lidar are uncovered.

In this first episode, the scientists and engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center embark on a new technological and scientific journey, building and sending a laser altimeter to Mars with the MOLA-1 Instrument.

Video descriptions available: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a014200/a014261/script_33790_01.html

Music: "Fragment," "Chasing Lights," "Charming Noise," "Steady Pace," "The Cage," "Taking It All In," "The Archives," "Intriguing Coincidence," "Everyday Stories," Universal Production Music

Ryan Fitzgibbons (KBRwyle): Producer, Writer, Editor, Animator, Researcher
LK Ward (KBRwyle): Narrator, Project support
James Garvin (NASA, Chief Scientist Goddard): Scientist, Interviewee, Project support
Thomas A. Neumann (NASA/GSFC): Scientist, Interviewee, Project support
Bryan Blair (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
David E. Smith (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
James Abshire (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Jan McGarry (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Jay Zwally (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Ralph Dubayah (University of Maryland): Interviewee
Xiaoli Sun (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Jack L. Bufton (GST): Interviewee
John F. Cavanaugh (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Joseph-Paul A. Swinski (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
David Lloyd Rabine (NASA/GSFC): Project support
Kathryn Mersmann (NASA/GSFC): Project support
Michael McClare (KBRwyle): Videographer
Rob Andreoli (AIMM): Videographer

This video can be freely shared and downloaded at https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/14261. While the video in its entirety can be shared without permission, some individual imagery provided by pond5 and is obtained through permission and may not be excised or remixed in other products. Specific details on footage may be found here https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/14261. For more information on NASA’s media guidelines, visit https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/guidelines/index.html.

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00:00 Intro
00:33 NASA Goddard in the 1980s
01:44 Early Airborne Tests
02:41 Developing MOLA
04:05 This Is an Altimeter
05:29 Building a Team
06:45 Mars Observer Launch
07:27 Lost in Space
1980s, 1990s, Goddard
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