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Earth Science and Applications from Space 20 LIST Lidar Surface Topography Launch: 2016â2020 Mission size: Medium Orbit: LEO, SSO Agency: NASA Estimated cost: $300 million Areas of interest: Health, Solid Earth Instruments: Laser altimeter Benefits: Quantified assessment of wildfire risk Monitoring of changes due to land use and land management Predictions of the likelihood of volcanic eruptions and landslides Until recently, the coarse resolution of topographic mapping has been a major impediment to understanding the forces and processes that shape Earthâs surface. Although airborne lidar is useful for surveying small areas, a space-based sensor is es- sential for worldwide mapping. Global topographic data are now available at 30- to 90-meter hori- zontal resolution, with a vertical pre- cision of about 10 meters. Much better data are needed in order to predict the location and timing of landslides, floods, tsunami run-ups, and lava and mud flows. Using laser altimetry, LIST will carry out the most precise global topo- graphic survey to date, with a resolution of 5 meters and a preci- sion in the tenths of meters. This will permit mapping of land- slide, earthquake, and flood hazards at a small enough scale to be useful for site-specific land use decisions as well as research. Observations from LIST will help scientists find active faults, map the global loss of topsoil, and detect signs of potential volcanic activity. Global measurements of vegetation height will advance studies of forest and land-cover dynamics and allow quantitative assessment of wildfire risk.