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Pictures from the real edge: NASA posts U.S. Topography data

Displaying spectacular new 3-D images and animations of California from space, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., announced the release of high-resolution topographic data of the continental United States gathered during the February 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) — a mission that is creating the world’s best topographic map.

With the release, gigabytes of digital elevation-model data, sampled at an interval of one measurement every 30 meters (98 feet), are now available to selected science investigators, with 90-meter (295-foot) sample imagery 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.
When completed in fall 2002, more than 12 terabytes of data encompassing nearly 1 trillion measurements will have been processed, representing 80 percent of Earth’s landmass between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south of the equator.

The areas mapped are home to approximately 95 percent of the world’s population. The centrepiece of the release is the California mosaic, a colour-shaded relief elevation map. The image depicts California at a data-sample interval of 3 arc-seconds (approximately 90 meters or 295 feet). The map depicts changes in height as colours, with blues and greens at the lower elevations, rising through yellows and browns to white at the highest elevations.