Is this the first time that LiDAR has made an appearance in a comic? Probably.
Today, Wired is featuring a comic by artist Clay Rodery about NASA’s asteroid-sampling spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx. (The acronym is pretty tortuous, so it’s not worth explaining here).
Wired’s comic comes on the day of the launch (which can be live streamed here.) It details how the craft will perform a number of extremely difficult and crazy space maneuvers—some of which will require LiDAR to pull off properly. Who supplied the LiDAR? None other than Teledyne Optech.
Specifically, the LiDAR onboard will be used to help Rex land. “During the approach,” Teledyne Optech explains. “[The LiDAR] will scan Bennu’s surface and create a high-resolution 3D map of the entire asteroid, which will help scientists understand its morphology and select the best spot for OSIRIS-REx to collect its sample.”
If all goes well, the samples gathered by OSIRIS-REx will do no less than teach us a thing or two about the origins of the universe. No big deal.
In a time of declining interest in the US space program, this is one launch we can get behind.