In this series, we dive into the legacy of Goddard's lead role in developing laser altimetry, which has revolutionized the way we map our planet, the Moon and other planets. Each chapter looks at the successes and failures of these lidar instruments, beginning with the Mars Observer Laser Altimeter in the late 1980s, through the current generation of laser altimeters on ICESat-2 and GEDI. Through dozens of interviews and archival footage, the history, challenges and legacy of lidar are uncovered.
After the devastating loss of Mars Observer, the Goddard team mourns and regroups to build a second MOLA instrument for the Mars Global Surveyor mission. But before they send their laser altimeter to Mars, the team seizes an opportunity to test it on the Space Shuttle.
Music: "Unanswered Questions," "Chasing Lights," "Curious Occasion," "Time Ticking Away," "Have You Seen Annie," "Down to the Wire," "Man Versus Clock," "Everyday Stories." Universal Production Music.