Earth  ID: 11734

Visualizing Elevation

Explorers have long gone forth and charted the terrain of unknown territory, producing detailed topographic maps of mountains, rivers, hills and plains. But in 2009, scientists using data collected by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite took things to a whole new level. More than 1 million scenes of the land surface imaged from space were stitched together to create the highest resolution global elevation map available to the public. The color-coded map covers 90 percent of Earth’s surface and stretches nearly pole to pole. Scientists use elevation data to better understand how land changes over time, especially from natural disasters like landslides, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. Watch the video for a tour of the map.

Story Credits

Lead Scientist:
Michael Abrams (NASA/JPL CalTech)

Lead Writer:
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Images courtesy of NASA/JPL/METI/ASTER Team

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