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The laser radar, more popularly known as LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging), is becoming one of the most powerful techniques for active remote sensing of the earth's atmosphere. Lasers offer great advantages over conventional light sources in terms of peak power, narrow spectral width as well as narrow beam width. Laser systems were deployed for atmospheric studies immediately after the discovery of the laser in 1960. Fiocco and Smullin were the first to use a laser for atmospheric studies. In 1963, using a 0.5 J Ruby laser, they obtained Rayleigh scattered signals from the atmosphere up to an altitude of 50 km and further detected dust layers in the atmosphere. Ligda in 1963 made the first LIDAR measurements of cloud heights in the troposphere height region.
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