June 30, 2009

NASA, Japan produce topographic Earth map

The U.S. and Japanese space agencies have produced a digital topographic map of Earth that covers more of our planet than ever.

The map was created from nearly 1.3 million individual stereo-pair images collected by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer that's aboard NASA's Terra satellite.

This is the most complete, consistent global digital elevation data yet made available to the world, said Woody Turner, NASA program scientist. Mike Abrams, the project's science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the map will be of value throughout the Earth sciences.

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.

Visualizations of the new map are available at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/20090629.html.