Latest Headlines

Optech Launches its LiDAR Technology Toward Mars

August 6, 2007
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

Vaughan, Ontario– Optech lidar technology has been successfully launched toward Mars aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. The launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral early Saturday morning marks the beginning of a 680 million kilometre journey to the Arctic region of Mars. After over nine months in space, the Phoenix spacecraft will land near the Martian North Pole on May 25th, 2008 and begin its search for water and environmental habitats that could harbour life.

Optech lidar technology is at the heart of Canada's contribution to the Phoenix mission – a meteorological weather station that will help accurately model Mars's climate and predict future weather processes. The Canadian Space Agency funded the contribution of the meteorological (MET) package to NASA, which was designed and built by Optech and MDA Space Missions with input from Canadian and US scientists. The Phoenix lidar will bounce laser pulses off passing clouds and atmospheric dust overhead to determine their composition, movement and size.

“The Phoenix lidar will not only unveil secrets about the Martian atmosphere, but will also help scientists with a greater understanding of how things work back here on Earth,” said Dr. Robert Richards, Director of Optech’s Space Group.

By scanning and probing the Martian polar sky with lidar for the first time in history, scientists are expecting to see a variety of atmospheric activity in greater detail than ever before, such as ice and dust clouds, ground fog, and maybe a few surprises if dust devils and sand storms fly across the landing site. To be able to pierce through most of the thin atmosphere, the laser is fixed in an upward-pointing orientation and works at 2 different wavelengths so that it can give accurate measurements of cloud height to within 10 meters. Despite only working on a power of a 30-watt light bulb, the lidar will be able to shoot 20 kilometres high into the Martian atmosphere.

Optech founder and Chairman Dr. Allan Carswell was the originating Canadian Principal Investigator for the Phoenix mission, and remains an active member of the Canadian and US Phoenix Science Teams. “We’ve been using lidar technology to study Earth’s atmosphere for many years but this is the first time this unique technology will be used on another planet,” Dr. Carswell said. “Studying weather is a very Canadian thing to do and we’re very proud to help put the maple leaf on Mars.”

More information about the Phoenix MET Station and lidar is available at the Canadian Space Agency’s website:

About Optech

Optech is the world leader in the development, manufacture and marketing of advanced laser-based survey instruments. The company offers client-driven solutions in airborne terrestrial mapping, airborne laser bathymetry, laser imaging, space-qualified sensors for orbital operations and planetary exploration, mine cavity monitoring systems and industrial process control.

Source: Optech, August 4, 2007.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to POB

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

HxGN Live

More than 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries attended HxGN Live, the annual Hexagon AB user conference, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 3-6. About 450 keynotes and panel discussions were held, and several companies from around the world exhibited their geospatial products. Here are a few snapshots from the event.

9/30/14 2:00 pm EDT

Technical Workflows on the Job Site Using 3D Laser Scanning

The purpose of this webinar is to dig into different laser scanning workflows and techniques.


POB September 2014

2014 September

In this September 2014 issue of POB, we take a look at a book that reveals how a rare-map dealer made millions stealing ancient maps. Also, discover the secrets of a 21st-century surveyor and how technology enables small surveying businesses to ease growing pains and maximize their potential.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Surveying Career

Would you recommend surveying as a career to a current college student?
View Results Poll Archive

Point of Beginning Store

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\POB\epubsite\Statues-pic-large.gif
Surveyor Statues

The perfect gift or award for any special occasion.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Geo Locator

Buyers Guide

The #1 buyers' guide for land surveyors and geomatics professionals. Search listings for software and equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers and professional services. CLICK HERE to view GeoLocator.


Facebook logo Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  YouTube logoRPLS small logo

Google +