NASA’s new laser instrument, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI, has advanced laser technology that will reveal the makeup of remote forest ecosystems around the globe. GEDI will soar above Earth at 17,150 miles per hour onboard the International Space Station. Its measurements of the height of leaves, branches, trees, and shrubs below its path will help scientists map the structure of forests and better understand how ecosystems are storing or releasing .

GEDI’s lidar instrument sends laser pulses down to Earth, where they penetrate the globe’s temperate and tropical forests. The laser beams ricochet off the first thing they hit, which can be a leaf atop a dense canopy, a protruding branch, or the ground from which the forest emerges. The energy returned to the GEDI tele scope on the International Space Station will provide an intricate three-dimensional map of forest canopies and carbon storage.

Led by the University of Maryland in collaboration with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, GEDI has the highest resolution and densest sampling of any lidar every put in orbit.

Music: “Hard Thinking” by Leonard-Morgen; “Hidden Files” by Sam Dodson [PRS]

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Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Matthew Radcliff

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