A team of engineers and scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has obtainedÂ federal funds toÂ develop a sodium light detection and ranging technology for the space agency toÂ study Earth’s mesosphere.
NASA said TuesdayÂ the lidar instrument will help researchers conduct studies on the relationship between the chemistry and dynamics of the mesosphere located 40 to 100 miles above the planet’s surface.
The agency aimsÂ to deploy the technology on the International Space Station if itÂ passes flightworthiness tests.
NASA’s Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science and Center Innovation programs currently sponsor the developmentÂ of the space-based sodium lidar.
The projectÂ builds on a previous agency investment onÂ Sounders, a greenhouse detectionÂ instrument that wasÂ built to measure the amount of carbon dioxide and methane in the planet’s atmosphere.
Mike Krainak, a laser expert at Goddard Space Flight Center, said that the agency will applyÂ lessons learned from the CO2 and Methane Sounders to further develop the sodium lidar.
“Instead of carbon dioxide and methane, weâre detecting sodium because of what it can tell us about the small-scale dynamics occurring in the mesosphere,” saidÂ Diego Janches, scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA also seeks to demonstrate an environmentally-tested engineering unit of the laser to meet technology-readiness level six ofÂ flight development requirements.