Shuttle radar topography mission produces a wealth of data



On February 22, 2000, the Space Shuttle Endeavour landed at Kennedy Space Center, completing the highly successful 11-day flight of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). Onboard were over 300 high-density tapes containing data for the highest resolution digital topographic map of Earth ever made.

SRTM is a cooperative project between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) of the U.S. Department of Defense. The mission was designed to use a single-pass radar interferometer to produce a digital elevation model (DEM) of the Earth's land surface between about 60 north and 56 south latitude. When completed, the DEM will have 30-m pixel spacing and about 15-m vertical accuracy. Two ortho-rectified image mosaics, one from the ascending passes with illumination from the southeast, and one from descending passes with illumination from the southwest, will also be produced (Figure 1).