It is, they claim, the most complete topographic map of Earth ever made. With detailed measurements taken by NASA’s Terra spacecraft, the new map just published by NASA and the Japanese government covers 99% of the Earth’s surface – although the poles have been left off.
The map was created by processing or correlating 1.3 million stereo-pair images snapped that had been taken by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emissions and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on board Terra. After that natural color was simulated on the data before it was superimposed over terrain models to give the final image.
The data is free for anyone to download.
Previously NASA had mapped 80% of the Earth’s surface with data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, and is now hoping to combine that with the ASTER data for an even more complete global map. But Woody Turner, Aster program scientist at NASA HQ in Washington DC, said:
"This is the most complete, consistent global digital elevation data yet made available to the world. This unique global data set will serve users and researchers from a wide array of disciplines that need elevation and terrain information."
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