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Lidar Exploration of the Atmosphere, Space and Beyond

We study advanced spectroscopy principles, develop new lidar technologies, investigate the fundamental physical and chemical processes that govern the whole atmosphere, and make new discoveries in the atmosphere–space sciences. Combining lidar observations and data analyses with numerical modeling, we aim to open a new window for human exploration of the universe.

Antarctic Lidar Movie

Our Na Doppler and Fe Boltzmann lidars running at Arrival Heights under Antarctic skies. Photo credits: Danny Hampton, Ian Geraghty, and Zimu Li
Read our work on resolving wave mysteries in Antarctica and check out our lidar blog.

The Antarctic lidar projects have been renewed for 5 more years. Come and join us for new science adventures.
We are recruiting energetic students and postdocs. Contact Professor Xinzhao Chu for more information.


August 2022, new members, PhD student Bennett Bartel and winter-over technician Jack Iribarren, were welcome to the group by PhD students Jackson Jandreau, Yingfei Chen, Arunima Prakash, and Ian Geraghty, along with Dr. Chu.

CEDAR-2022-Arunima-Prakash CEDAR-2022-Ian-Geraghty
CEDAR2022 CEDAR-2022-Jackson-Jandreau.jpg

CEDAR Workshop 2022 was held on June 19-24, 2022 in Austin, TX. Four PhD students, Yingfei Chen, Arunima Prakash, Ian Geraghty, and Jackson Jandreau, gave nice presentations and received good comments and questions from the attending researchers. Arunima won a prize in CEDAR Students Poster Competition.


Female PhD student Arunima Prakash won two students awards in summer 2022 at the 30th International Laser Radar Conference (ILRC) and at the CEDAR Workshop 2022 for her studies on the long-term lidar and satellite observations of polar mesospheric clouds in Antarctica.


PhD student Jackson Jandreau won the Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) at the AGU Fall Meeting 2021 for his work on "New Techniques to Eliminate Noise-Biases from Lidar and Radar Data for Tracing Gravity Wave Energy from the Stratosphere to the MLT" .


Spring 2022, PhD students Yingfei Chen, Arunima Prakash, and Jackson Jandreau train themselves in the lab, working on a new laser development.


Open house on Feb. 18, 2022: Bennett Bartel (2nd from the left) and Kawther H. Rouabhi (rightmost) visited the lidar lab and discussed lasers and spectroscopy with Arunima Prakash (leftmost) and Jackson Jandreau (2nd from the right).


Space metal detected above Boulder -- Denver 9 News report of our lidar discovery of thermosphere-ionosphere metal layers with regular occurrence. This discovery is a nice piece of work published by PhD student Yingfei Chen with Dr. Chu in spring 2021. The TV news story also featured PhD students Ian Geraghty and Jackson Jandreau.


Besides working hard on their research papers and studying hard in their classes, PhD students Arunima Prakash, Yingfei Chen, Ian Geraghty, Gary Sutliff, and Jackson Jandreau (left to right, excluding Dr. Chu) spend their time training, experimenting and building new instruments in the lidar lab.

New Normal

A new normal for the group research discussion during spring 2021. Research presentations, discussions, and even heated debates excited everyone to produce new results and write new papers. (From top-left) Jackson, Dr. Chu, Ian, Arunima, Gary, Yingfei, and Nik.


A best year of wildlife at McMurdo Station in 2019-2020 summer season: Adelie penguins, emperor penguins, minke whales, orcas, seals, and skuas reveal the beauty of Nature. Photo credit: Dr. Cissi Lin

Many exciting research projects are going on, and several recent publications may reflect the breadth and depth of our research. Long-term changes in the atmosphere-space system are one of the major research goals as highlighted.


The happy lidar crew on 2019 Christmas Eve at Arrival Heights Lidar Lab in Antarctica. Jackson Jandreau (left), Xianxin Li (right), Cissi Lin (front), and Dr. Chu (in the back).


Discovery Hut at McMurdo Station facing the Royal Society Mountains -- part of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. Photo credit: Xinzhao Chu


After a superb winter Zimu Li flew out and Ian Geraghty endured a 13-month deployment. Ian made sure a smooth transition to 2020 winter-overs Xianxin Li and Cissi Lin. Check out this NPR article about a beautiful cake modeled after our lidar!

SSW Discussion

PhD students Jackson Jandreau et al. worked hard on the Boulder campus for science research while taking classes. They learned a lot from discussions with atmospheric scientist Dr. Lynn Harvey.

Lidar Beatles

Lidar "Beatles" at the McMurdo sound: Zimu Li, Dr. Chu, Ian Geraghty, and Chang. Read Ian's blog and Zimu's interview

Welcoming science collaborations

Professor Kaoru Sato's visit to our Boulder laboratory in September 2019 discussing wave dynamics and science collaborations

Find out where two of our lidars are located -- the McMurdo Station in Antarctica

Antarctica Map

McMurdo Station (US) and Scott Base (New Zealand) are next to each other on the Ross Island, facing the Trans-Antarctic Mountains and the Ross Ice Shelf. A few miles north of McMurdo is the Arrival Heights Observatory that is hosting the two lidars. Map credit:

McMurdo Station

McMurdo Station on the New Year's Day of 2020. Arrival Heights Lidar Lab is a few miles from McMurdo, beyond the dome in the far back of the picture. Photo Credit: Xinzhao Chu

Arrival Heights

Welcome to Arrival Heights Observatory where the University of Colorado Na Doppler and Fe Boltzmann lidars are shooting laser beams to the sky for probing the Antarctic atmosphere and space. Photo Credit: Chu Research Group

We always welcome new members and scientific collaborations!

2019 Chu Group

Our group photo on Boulder campus in Fall 2019. From front right, Jackson Jandrea (Smead Fellow), Zimu Li (2019 Winter-Over Scientist), Nate O'Neill (Research Assistant), Dr. Mike Jones (Senior Scientist), Dr. Dongsong Sun (Visiting Professor). From the back left, Zhuoying Chen (Undgrad Research Assistant), Dr. Cissi Lin (2020 Winter-Over Scientist), Amanda Steckel (PhD Graduate Research Assistant), Xianxin Li (2020 Winter-Over Scientist), Arunima Prakash (Graduate Research Assistant), and Dr. Chu.
Three team members are missing from this this group photo. Ian Geraghty (2019 Winter-Over Scientist) was running lidars in Antarctica, Nik Sinkola (Engineering Expert) was on travel, and Manuel Lindo (Undergrad Research Assistant) was attending a class. They are shown in the following two photos.

Antarctic Thanksgiving

From right, Ian Geraghty, Zimu Li, Dr. Chu, and Mike Lotto shared a happy moment right before the Thanksgiving Dinner in November 2018 at McMurdo, Antarctica.

2019 Fall

We had a fun moment with this famous statue in front of the Old Main building in September 2019. From the front right, Arunima Prakash, Manuel Lindo, Nik Sinkola, and Dr. Mike Jones. From the back left, Dr. Cissi Lin, Amanda Steckel, Jackson Jandreau, Nate O'Neill, Zimu Li, and Dr. Chu.

Years of creativity and hard work have achieved many scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, and many past and present group members have made great contributions. Below are historic pictures for our beautiful memories of the journey.

First lidar group photo at McMurdo

Photo taken in November 2010 at McMurdo, Antarctica (From left: Wentao Huang, Xinzhao Chu, John A. Smith and Weichun Fong)

This is an energetic group! Many members have traveled to the end of the world to make lidar observations in Antarctica.
12 students (Zhibin Yu, Brendan Roberts, Weichun Fong, Cao Chen, Jian Zhao, Ian Barry, Zhengyu Hua, Dongming Chang, Zimu Li, Ian Geraghty, Xianxin Li, and Cissi Lin) have braved through the harsh Antarctic winters from 2011 through 2020!

Winter Over

Dr. Zhibin Yu and Mr. Brendan Roberts were the first two winter-over lidar scientists in 2011 and 2012

Winter-over students 2013 and 2014

Dr. Weichun Fong and Dr. Cao Chen braved through winters 2013 and 2014

Winter-over 2015 and 2016

Lidar team at new year 2015. From the left, Dr. Chu, Richard Dean, Jian Zhao, and Ian Barry

We are excited not only by the lovely penguins, but also by the new science discoveries we have made in the polar atmosphere and space from the McMurdo lidar data. More details can be found in our Publications.


An emperor penguin at Pegasus Airport near McMurdo

Energetic group for lidar research

Three Adelie penguins chatting at the McMurdo sound


Boulder is home to a vibrant community of scientists and engineers and houses some of the world's most renowned environmental science institutes and facilities. Many of our residents allow this exploratory spirit to carry over into their free time, with vast expanses of open space in and around the community for hiking, biking, skiing and other outdoor activities.

Energetic group 2013

Our Lidar Group in October 2013 on Boulder Campus.

Besides making new science discoveries, these creative researchers are also excited by making innovations in lidar technologies and developing the next-generation lidar instruments. New lidars have been or are being developed on our Boulder campus.


Creative students Zhibin Yu and John A. Smith “painted” LIDAR with the STAR Na Doppler lidar at the Table Mountain Lidar Facility, north of Boulder.

Lidar research carries us to see wonders in the world ...

McMurdo Aurora

Spectacular aurora display over Arrival Heights near McMurdo, Antarctica when Zhibin Yu was operating our Fe Boltzmann lidar there on May 28, 2011.

Creativity, dedication, and persistency paid off, as many PhD students earned PhD degrees and honors, such as the first place prizes at the National Science Foundation (NSF) CEDAR Students Poster Competitions, and landed up top jobs such as faculty members, NASA scientists, industry engineers, research leaders, and Antarctic explorers ...

Lidar PhDs

Lidar "geeks" Dr. Zhibin Yu and Dr. John Smith earned their PhD degrees in December 2014 with Professor Xinzhao Chu in Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences


CEDAR science community recognized and honored the lidar team's achievements with a CEDAR Prize Lecture Award to Professor Xinzhao Chu

CEDAR Prize Lecture

CEDAR prize lecture was given by Dr. Chu on June 18, 2019 at Santa Fe, NM