Data from ABoVE 2017 is being posted. Check it out!


What is LVIS?

LVIS Logo

NASA's Land, Vegetation, and Ice Sensor or "LVIS", is an airborne, wide-swath imaging laser altimeter system that is flown over target areas to collect data on surface topography and 3-d structure. Utilizing a system that includes a 1064 nm-wavelength laser and 3 detectors, the entire time history of the outgoing and return pulses is digitized, allowing unambiguous determination of range and return pulse structure. Combined with aircraft position and attitude knowledge, the sensor produces topographic maps with dm accuracy and vertical height and structure measurements of overflown terrain, e.g., vegetation and ice. LVIS operates at altitudes up to 20km above the ground and is capable of producing a data swath of up to 4km wide with 5m footprint. Flights also include high-resolution camera imagery. Other sensor data (e.g. hyper spectral images) can be collected on request.


Since 2017, the sensor has been operating as a NASA Facility, providing low cost data to NASA investigators and science missions. Contact us for details on how to include LVIS flights in your proposals.


Recent LVIS Missions

IceBridge 2017

Operation IceBridge images the polar regions of Earth to gather data on ice and glaciers.

LVIS flew in Greenland to gather data for this mission during Summer 2017.

ABoVE 2017

The Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment observes changes in forests, permafrost, and ecosystems in Canada and Alaska.

LVIS flew in Northwest Territories, Canada and Alaska to gather data for this mission during Summer 2017.

AfriSAR 2016

The Afrisar field campaign in Feb-March 2016 collected data to help prepare and calibrate four current and upcoming spaceborne missions for NASA, ESA and DLR.


LVIS was one of several airborne sensors and was used to collect surface topography, vegetation height and structure data of several sites in Gabon, Africa.


Example of LVIS Scan and Beam Pattern

This image shows the LVIS scan and beam pattern. The unique LVIS scanning system generates this pattern that evenly and completely samples the surface below. There are approximately 100 beams across the 2 km wide swath. The colors represent the surface elevation (blue is low, yellow/white is high). The slight undulations at the top and bottom edges are a result of the aircraft roll. (Click image for full resolution)

Crane Glacier

LVIS data over the Antarctic Peninsula draped onto the Google Earth background.

For more information and access to the Crane dataset click here.


Where is LVIS?

Since LVIS is not currently on a mission, this map is showing LVIS's last flight from Operation IceBridge. This was a test flight on Dynamic Aviation's King Air B200T (N44U) upon returning from Greenland.

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