BackForwardInstrument:  ATLAS 

Instrument details
Acronym ATLAS
Full name Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System
Purpose Polar ice sheet thickness and topography.  Also cloud top height and aerosol
Short description Single wavelength lidar operating at 1064 nm. A Laser Reference System (LRS) gives absolute pointing knowledge.
Background Evolution of GLAS flown on ICESat
Scanning Technique Nadir-only viewing, sampling at 170 m intervals along track, near continuous profiling
Resolution Horizontal: 66 m IFOV sampled at 170 m intervals along track.  Vertical: 10 cm surface, 200 m cloud top
Coverage / Cycle Global coverage in 183 d (orbit repeat cycle) leaving cross-track 2.5 km gaps at 80° latitude, 15 km at equator
Mass 298 kg Power 300 W Data Rate 450 bps

 

Providing Agency NASA
Instrument Maturity Backed by strong heritage
Utilization Period: ≥2019 to ≥2023
Last update: 2017-03-31
Detailed characteristics
Satellites this instrument is flying on

Note: a red tag indicates satellites no longer operational, a green tag indicates operational satellites, a blue tag indicates future satellites

Instrument classification
  • Earth observation instrument
  • Active and radio-occultation sensor
  • Lidar (Doppler lidar, backscatter lidar, lidar Dial, lidar altimeter)
Mission objectives
Primary mission objectives
  • Coastal sea level (tide)
  • Geoid
  • Gravity field
  • Ice sheet topography
  • Ocean dynamic topography
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Tentative Evaluation of Measurements

The following list indicates which measurements can typically be retrieved from this category of instrument. To see a full Gap Analysis by Variable, click on the respective variable.

Note: table can be sorted by clicking on the column headers
VariableRelevance for measuring this variableOperational limitationsExplanation
Aerosol column burden4 - fairCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Aerosol mass mixing ratio5 - marginalCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Aerosol Optical Depth4 - fairCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Biomass3 - highCloud sensitive.. Index only.. Along-track only.Total biomass inferred from the canopy
Cloud drop effective radius5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud ice5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud ice (total column)5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud ice effective radius5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud liquid water (CLW)5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud liquid water (CLW) total column5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud optical depth5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Cloud top height4 - fairAlong-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Coastal sea level (tide)4 - fairCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from sea-ice lidar altimeter
Freezing level height in clouds5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter. Detected as discontinuity
Geoid2 - very highLong time series needed.. Along-track only.Geoid derived from multi-temporal analysis of lidar altimetry data
Glacier topography3 - highCloud sensitive.. Long time for mapping.. Along-track only.Specifically designed for sea ice elevation, also useful over land
Gravity field3 - highPartial information (geoid).Gravity field derived from multi-temporal analysis of lidar altimetry data
Height of the top of PBL3 - highCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter. PBL top detected as discontinuity
Height of the tropopause3 - highCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter. Tropopause height detected as discontinuity
Ice sheet topography3 - highCloud sensitive.. Long time for mapping.. Along-track only.Specifically designed for sea ice elevation, also useful over land
Land surface topography3 - highCloud sensitive.. Long time for mapping.. Along-track only.Specifically designed for sea ice elevation, also useful over land
Melting layer depth in clouds5 - marginalLow-density cloud only.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter. Detected as discontinuity
Ocean dynamic topography3 - highCloud sensitive.. Long time for mapping.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from sea-ice lidar altimeter
PSC occurrence3 - highAlong-track only.NIR lidar altimeter
Sea-ice elevation3 - highCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.NIR lidar altimeter specifically designed for ice elevation
Sea-ice thickness4 - fairCloud sensitive.. Change detection only.. Along-track only.NIR lidar altimeter specifically designed for ice elevation. Thickness inferred by ice model
Aerosol volcanic ash4 - fairCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter
Aerosol volcanic ash (Total column)3 - highCloud sensitive.. Along-track only.Opportunity information from lidar altimeter