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Instrument: AHF : AIRBORNE HEIGHT FINDER
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Description
The USGS has developed a helicopter-based instrument, known as the Airborne Height Finder (AHF) which is able to measure the terrain surface elevation, whether above or under the water, in a noninvasive, nondestructive manner. Using an airborne surveying platform (the helicopter) equipped with GPS (global positioning system) technology and a high-tech version of the surveyor's plumb bob, the AHF system distinguishes itself from remote sensing technologies in its ability to physically penetrate vegetation and murky water, providing reliable measurement of the underlying topographic surface.

Online Resources
http://www.usgs.gov/features/h_finder.html