Public awareness of harmful human environmental effects such as global warming has increased greatly in recent years and researchers have increased their efforts in gaining more knowledge about the Earth s atmosphere. Natural and man-made processes pose threats to the environment and human life, so knowledge of all atmospheric processes is necessary. Ozone and aerosols are important factors in many atmospheric processes and active remote sensing techniques provide a way to analyze their quantity and distribution. A compact ground-based lidar system for a robotic platform meant for atmospheric aerosol measurements was designed, tested, and evaluated. The system will eventually be deployed for ozone and aerosol measurements in Mars and lunar missions to improve our knowledge and understanding of atmospheres on Mars and the Moon. All of the major subsystems were described in detail and atmospheric testing was performed to test the operability of the receiver system to acquire the lidar return signal from clouds and aerosols. The measured backscattered results are discussed and compared with theoretical results.