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Excelitas Avalanche Photodiode

Excelitas Technologies contributed its Avalanche Photodiode technology to NASA’s GEDI instrument currently orbiting Earth on the International Space Station (ISS). Excelitas wishes to congratulate NASA and the University of Maryland team led by Dr. Ralph Dubayah for the first release of data after all in-flight validation and testing was completed. 

GEDI (Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation), launched in late 2018, is actively mapping Earth from the ISS on a 2-year mission to provide extremely high-resolution 3D images of forest canopy structure and land elevation. Year-over-year variations in vegetation density and their resulting impact to the carbon cycle are key elements in modeling climate changes and humanity’s impact on our planet. 

GEDI models will further enhance data being developed by other Earth-observation missions that are monitoring the evolution of structures on Earth. The contribution of GEDI to enhanced weather forecasting, forest management, glacier and snowpack monitoring, and other applications is expected to be immeasurable. Following validation of structure measured by the NASA LVIS mission, (also emloying Excelitas avalanche photodiodes), the first data sets have been released to the pubic via the Land and Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC), allowing all climate scientists to correlate GEDI data to their own.

Excelitas’ avalanche photodiode (APD) allows the detection of full-waveform return signals from the ISS. Going beyond a simple distance measurement or 2D imaging, the waveform provides key information on the height and density of vegetation within a sampled footprint. The actual 3D structure of each sampling area is thus recorded and its variation can be studied over time and compared to other field observations.

Excelitas has a long heritage of designing and producing YAG-enhanced APDs used in several space surveying missions. “We look forward to continued collaboration with NASA on other linear LiDAR missions for several more years,” said Desfonds.

Dr. Xiaoli Sun, Research Physical Scientist at the Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory, from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) will present Paper 11287-39, titled "Advanced Silicon Avalanche Photodiodes on NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) Mission", during Session 9: Sensors and Ruggedized Systems II, at SPIE Photonic West conference on February 6, 2020.

Excelitas Technologies is exhibiting at SPIE Photonics West in the Moscone Center, February 4-6, 2020 (Booth 1149). Attendees are invited to visit Excelitas’ booth to discuss their requirements for optical LiDAR payloads and other mission-critical optoelectronics and advanced electronic systems.   

Labels: Excelitas Technologies,NASA,avalanche photodiodes,topographical maps,environment,carbon,water,green,Photonics West 2020

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