Satellite-based remote sensing using laser-based lidar techniques provides a powerful tool for global 3-D mapping of atmospheric species (e.g. CO2, ozone, clouds, aerosols), physical attributes of the atmosphere (e.g. temperature, wind speed), and spectral indicators of Earth features (e.g. vegetation, water). Such information provides a valuable source for weather prediction, understanding of climate change, atmospheric science and health of the Earth eco-system. Similarly, laser-based altimetry can provide high precision ground topography mapping and more complex 3-D mapping (e.g. canopy height profiling). The lidar technique requires use of cutting-edge laser technologies and engineered designs that are capable of enduring the space environment over the mission lifetime. The laser must operate with suitably high electrical-to-optical efficiency and risk reduction strategy adopted to mitigate against laser failure or excessive operational degradation of laser performance.