A parametric analysis of the Shuttle-borne differential absorption lidar concept for the measurement of atmospheric trace constituent profiles in the nadir viewing mode is presented. The criterion of an optimum constituent optical depth is developed and applied to generate estimates of range resolved measurement errors. These errors emphasize the fundamental limitations for establishing the feasibility of range-resolved differential absorption lidar measurements from Shuttle. With current lidar system technology, atmospheric backscatter density profiles may be adequately determined up to about 60-km altitude at the doubled-ruby wavelength, 3472 Å, for a 1-J/pulse laser and a 1-m2 receiver. Potential range-resolved measurements of stratospheric and mesospheric trace constituents by differential absorption from Shuttle altitudes are limited to H2O, CH4, N2O, O3, and CO, species which can be more easily measured by passive limb viewing techniques. Range-resolved water vapor data for the lower troposphere may be obtained with accuracies which would be competitive with those from passive sensors. Technology advances in laser power and efficiency and in heterodyne detectors may allow other tropospheric species measurements from Shuttle in the future.
Ellis E. Remsberg and Larry L. Gordley, "Analysis of differential absorption lidar from the space shuttle," Appl. Opt. 17, 624-630 (1978)