Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cartographic geeks, rejoice! NASA, Japan release most complete topographic map of earth

NASA: NASA and Japan released a new digital topographic map of Earth Monday that covers more of our planet than ever before. The map was produced with detailed measurements from NASA's Terra spacecraft. The new global digital elevation model of Earth was created from nearly 1.3 million individual stereo-pair images collected by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or Aster, instrument aboard Terra. NASA and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, known as METI, developed the data set. It is available online to users everywhere at no cost.

"This is the most complete, consistent global digital elevation data yet made available to the world," said Woody Turner, Aster program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This unique global set of data will serve users and researchers from a wide array of disciplines that need elevation and terrain information."

According to Mike Abrams, Aster science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the new topographic information will be of value throughout the Earth sciences and has many practical applications. "Aster's accurate topographic data will be used for engineering, energy exploration, conserving natural resources, environmental management, public works design, firefighting, recreation, geology and city planning, to name just a few areas," Abrams said.

…"The Aster data fill in many of the voids in the shuttle mission's data, such as in very steep terrains and in some deserts," said Michael Kobrick, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission project scientist at JPL. "NASA is working to combine the Aster data with that of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and other sources to produce an even better global topographic map."…

NASA furnished this great image with the following caption: The Los Angeles Basin is bordered on the north by the San Gabriel Mountains. Other smaller basins are separated by smaller mountain ranges, like the Verdugo Hills, and the Santa Monica Mountains. In this perspective view looking to the northwest, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) simulated natural color image data were draped over digital topography from the ASTER Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) data set. Dodger Stadium is visible in the lower right, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the light- colored area at the foot of the mountains in the upper right of the image. The ASTER data were acquired August 15, 2006, and are located near 34.1 degrees north latitude, 118.2 degrees west longitude.

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