Why NASA fires laser beams at trees from the International Space Station

  • Alejandra Martins
  • BBC News World

Illustration showing GEDI firing laser from the International Space Station

Credit, NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center

photo caption,

GEDI fires energy pulses towards the Earth’s surface 242 times per second

Right now, a shower of laser pulses is coming to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS).

And their goal is to reveal even the most intimate secrets of the planet’s forests.

The GEDI mission, jointly developed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (US space agency) and the University of Maryland, USA, enables unprecedented 3D mapping of forested areas even in the most remote locations.

“It’s a satellite the size of a refrigerator, it weighs about 500 kilograms and is docked or connected to one of the modules of the International Space Station”, explained to BBC News Mundo, the BBC’s Spanish-language news service, Spanish scientist Adrián Pascual, member of the GEDI scientific team, specialist in mapping and management of forest ecosystems and professor at the University of Maryland.

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