Wisconsin Geospatial News

U.S. Topography Data from Shuttle Mission Unveiled

NASA has announced the release of high-resolution topographic data of the continental U.S. gathered during the February 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) — a mission that is creating the world’s best topographic map.

“The maps produced from the mission will be among the most valuable, universally beneficial data ever produced by a science mission. National and local government organizations, scientists, commercial enterprises and civilians alike will find the data useful for applications as diverse as earthquake studies, flood control, transportation and urban planning ,enhanced ground-collision warning systems for aircraft and better placement of cell phone towers,” explains a SRTM project manager.

With this release, gigabytes of digital elevation model data, with 90-meter (295-foot) sample imagery is available to the general public. Processing and distribution of validated U.S. digital topographic data will continue on a regular basis, with completion expected this spring. A color-shaded relief elevation map of California is available online.

The mission collected 3-D measurements of Earth’s land surface using radar interferometry, which compares two radar images taken at slightly differnt locations to obtain elevation or surface-change information.

As processing of each continent is finished, data will be sent to NIMA for final quality checking and copies sent to the United State Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, SD, for final archiving and distribution.
(Note from the SCO: We should point out that while this new terrain data is the best yet available on a world-wide basis, it does not have as high a resolution or accuracy as DEM data derived from the contour lines on the USGS 7.5-minute topographic map series.)

More information: NASA’s News Release

More information: California mosaic image and animations

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