Global space borne lidar profiling of atmospheric clouds and aerosol began in 2003 following the launch of the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite. GLAS obtains nadir profiles through the atmosphere in two wavelength channels, day and night, at a fundamental resolution of 76.8 m vertical and 172 m along track. The 532 nm channel uses photon-counting detectors and resolves profiles of observed backscatter cross sections to 10−7 1/m-sr. The 1064 nm channel employs analog detection adequate to 10−6 1/m-sr and with greater dynamic range. By 2005 approximately seven months of global data are available. Processing algorithms produce data products for the corrected lidar signal, cloud and aerosol layer boundaries and optical thickness and extinction and backscatter cross sections. Operational sensitivity is shown by the frequency distribution for cloud optical thickness peaking at approximately 0.02.