Photos from my November 2017 visit to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where I met scientists central to the development of lidar that had orbited Mars, Mercury, the moon and Earth. Goddard scientists were also satellite laser ranging (SLR) pioneers; many of these were taken at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO).

  • Goddard scientist Xiaoli Sun with an engineering model of the Mercury Laser Altimeter he helped design.
  • NASA scientist Greg Neumann with his map of the moon. Neumann created colorful maps of Mars, Mercury and the Moon based on data from Goddard-built space lidars.
  • Mars, as mapped by MOLA, the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (courtesy NASA)
  • Mercury, as mapped by MLA, the Mercury Laser Altimeter (courtesy NASA)
  • The moon, as mapped by LOLA, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (courtesy NASA)
  • Part of the LAGEOS engineering model in a box in Goddard scientist Jan McGarry's office. It had just returned from Italy, where scientists used it for SLR testing.
  • Tushar Ujla mans the controls inside the GGAO’s MOBLAS-7 satellite laser ranging station as colleague Maceo Blount looks on.
  • Tushar Ujla, a Goddard technician, at the MOBLAS-7 controls.
  • The satellite priority list taped to the MOBLAS-7 console.
  • MOBLAS-7, the satellite laser ranging instrument, fires its 532-nanometer bursts 10 times a second at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory (GGAO).
  • MOBLAS-7 takes aim at the LAGEOS satellite.
  • Jim Pontius, the GEDI ISS instrument project manager, describes the hardware.
  • Jim Pontius, the GEDI project manager, points out the GEDI lidar testing area at NASA Goddard.
  • Technicians with the coolant piping to be added to the GEDI ISS instrument in the background (shot through plastic sheeting enclosing the clean room).