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Image of the week: Seeing with lasers

Image of the week - Seeing with lasers

Top: LiDAR point cloud data for the Old Faithful area of Yellowstone National Park. Data source is EarthScope LiDAR hosted by the OpenTopography Facility. Image shows approximately 8.3 million individual LiDAR returns. The historic Old Faithful Inn is the structure at left. The Old Faithful Geyser is in the middle of the image.

Bottom: LiDAR digital elevation model (DEM)-derived image of Fish Springs cinder cone and the Owens Valley fault in eastern California produced from OpenTopography-hosted EarthScope LiDAR data.

Credit: Christopher Crosby, SDSC. Source: San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego.

The data used to create these images was gathered using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), a technology that utilizes lasers to record precise and extremely high resolution topographical information.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center′s OpenTopography portal provides free access to LiDAR data sets, including the EarthScope data shown here.

SDSC recently received $1.4 million in National Science Foundation funding for a three-year project to further develop OpenTopography; a smaller related grant of $300,000 was awarded to the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

"The fundamental goal of this project is to provide centralized access to community earth science LiDAR topography data," said Christopher Crosby, SDSC's project manager for OpenTopography in a recent press release. "There is wealth of public domain LiDAR data available, but much of it is not yet easily accessible. We intend to leverage available cyberinfrastructure to make these powerful data sets, as well as online processing tools and knowledge resources, accessible to a large and diverse user community."

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