Lidar beam viewing the atmosphere through our Cobleigh Hall roofport 

(photo by J. A. Shaw)
green beam

What is Lidar? Why Lidar?
LIDAR is an acronym that stands for LIght Detection And Ranging.  

Like radar (radio detection and ranging), lidar determines distances from the time it takes for a pulse of energy to travel to a remote target and back to the receiver.  Radars use radio waves, but lidars use pulses of laser light.  

Atmospheric research

Lidars can tell us what kind of clouds are in the sky or what kind of dust or smoke is in the air.  Atmospheric lidars are used in applications ranging from  weather studies to forest-fire smoke monitoring.  At MSU, we use lidars with other sensors to help produce improved weather and climate models.  Our lidars measure clouds and water vapor.


In a collaboration between theElectrical & Computer Engineering and Physicsdepartments, we are developing several lidars and using them in interdisciplinary research.  Our research team includes experts in laser physics and environmental remote sensing. 

Fish Lidar at Yellowstone

We are collaborating with Jim Churnside's group at NOAA to investigate the potential of airborne lidar for finding spawning locations of invasive Lake Trout that are threatening the prized native Cutthroat Trout in Yellowstone Lake. We flew the fish lidar over Yellowstone Lake in September 2004.

Dr. Joseph A. Shaw
email Dr. Shaw 
ph. 406-994-7261
Optical Remote Sensor Laboratory
ECE Department

Dr. Kevin Repasky
email Dr. Repasky

Dr. John Carlsten
email Dr. Carlsten

Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana 59717

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Bee Lidar

In a collaboration with Jerry Bromenshenk at the University of Montana (Missoula), we are developing lidars and laser sensors for detecting honey bees in flight to locate buried land mines.   

Applied Optics article February 2006
Optics Express bee lidar article July 2005 

Missoulian article on laser detection of bees for locating landmines (Nov. 16, 2003)

The green beam over Bozeman

When we turn on the cloud lidar at night, the bright green beam is a pretty sight.  It is safe to look at from below so please enjoy...!