Initial base-line field test performance results of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s airborne oceanographic lidar (AOL) in the bathymetry mode are presented. Flight tests over the Atlantic Ocean yielded water depth measurements to 10 m. Water depths to 4.6 m were measured in the more turbid Chesapeake Bay. Water-truth measurements of depth and beam attenuation coefficients by boat were taken at the same time as the aircraft over flights to aid in determining the system’s operational performance. Beam attenuation coefficient α and depth d product αd was established early in the program as the performance criterion index. A performance product of 6 was determined to be the goal. This performance goal was successfully met or exceeded in the large number of field tests executed. Included are selected data from nadir-angle tests conducted at 0°, 5°, 10°, and 15°. Field-of-view data chosen from the 2-, 5-, 10-, and 20-mrad tests are also presented. Depth measurements obtained to altitudes of 456 m are given for additional comparison. This laser bathymetry system represents a significant improvement over prior models in that (1) the complete surface-to-bottom pulse waveform is digitally recorded on magnetic tape at a rate of 400 pulse waveforms/sec, and (2) wide-swath mapping data may be routinely acquired using the 30° full-angle conical scanner. Space does not allow all the 5,000,000 laser soundings to be included. Qualified interested users may obtain complete data sets for their own in-depth analysis.
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