Integrated path differential absorption (IPDA) lidar can be used to remotely measure the column density of gases in the path to a scattering target . The total column gas molecular density can be derived from the ratio of the laser echo signal power with the laser wavelength on the gas absorption line (on-line) to that off the line (off-line). 80th coherent detection and direct detection IPDA lidar have been used successfully in the past in horizontal path and airborne remote sensing measurements. However, for space based measurements, the signal propagation losses are often orders of magnitude higher and it is important to use the most efficient laser modulation and detection technique to minimize the average laser power and the electrical power from the spacecraft. This paper gives an analysis the receiver signal to noise ratio (SNR) of several laser modulation and detection techniques versus the average received laser power under similar operation environments. Coherent detection  can give the best receiver performance when the local oscillator laser is relatively strong and the heterodyne mixing losses are negligible. Coherent detection has a high signal gain and a very narrow bandwidth for the background light and detector dark noise. However, coherent detection must maintain a high degree of coherence between the local oscillator laser and the received signal in both temporal and spatial modes. This often results in a high system complexity and low overall measurement efficiency. For measurements through atmosphere the coherence diameter of the received signal also limits the useful size of the receiver telescope. Direct detection IPDA lidars are simpler to build and have fewer constraints on the transmitter and receiver components. They can use much larger size 'photon-bucket' type telescopes to reduce the demands on the laser transmitter. Here we consider the two most widely used direct detection IPDA lidar techniques. The first technique uses two CW seeder lasers, one on-line and one offline that are intensity modulated by two different frequency sine-waves signals before being amplified by a common laser amplifier. The receiver uses narrowband amplitude demodulation, or lock-in, Signal processing at the given laser modulation frequencies [3,4]. The laser transmitter operates in a quasi CW mode with the peak power equal to twice the average power. The on-line and off-line lasers can be transmitted at the same time without interference. Another direct detection technique uses a low duty cycle pulsed laser modulation [5,6] with the laser wavelengths alternating between on-line and off-line on successive pulses. The receiver uses time resolved detection and can also provide simultaneous target range measurement. With a lower laser duty cycle it requires a much higher peak laser power for the same average power.