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Sensor layout in the NASA P-3 aircraft
Sensor layout in the NASA P-3 aircraft.
Credit: Johns Hopkins University

What was the purpose of LaRA?

The need for simultaneous laser and radar height measurements over land and sea ice masses has been recognised by both NASA and ESA. To that end, the airborne Laser, Radar Altimeter (LaRA) intercomparison field campaign to the Arctic took place in 2002 to gather this data.

The principal objectives for the resulting datasets were to provide insight into the differences between the estimated height values extracted from coincidental laser (optical) and radar (rf) measurements over various ice and snow surface conditions.

What was the outcome of LaRA?

There were four flights over land and sea ice from 18 May through to 23 May 2002 during which simultaneous radar, laser, and video data were collected.

LaRA has shown that temporally and spatially coincident laser- and radar-derived heights of snow-covered ice sheets can be obtained from a suitable combination of instruments mounted on the same aircraft, and operated simultaneously. Furthermore, the team have shown that such data may be relatively calibrated in height to +/- 1 cm. To the team's knowledge, LaRA was the first field campaign in which such a standard was met.

Download the LaRA campaign final report

Campaign Summary
Data Coverage (Year)2002
Geographic SiteGreenland, Svalbard
Field of ApplicationIce-sheets and sea ice
Data SizeMore than 50 GB

Digital Object Identifier: - LaRa: "Technical Support for the Deployment Of Radar and Laser Altimeters during LaRA 2002"


The campaign data is available online via FTP upon submission of a data access request. An active EO Sign In account is required to submit the request.

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