10 cool NASA projects for studying the environment

World's First Global Forest Map

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NASA tree map

credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon/Based on data from Michael Lefsky

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Using laser technology aboard three of its satellites, NASA captured the data necessary to make the world's first global map of forest height. The LIDAR instruments shot pulses of light at the ground and then compared the time it took to return with the time it took the light to return from the top of trees in forest canopies. All in all, the resulting maps were made from data collected from 250 million laser pulses over seven years.