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Earth Science

Most Complete Topographical Map of Earth Complete 207

Posted by timothy
from the please-suggest-applications-below dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Kudos to NASA and the Japanese trade ministry for mapping 99% of the Earth's surface, surpassing their previous effort, with which the new data will be amalgamated. Apparently, the data will be free to download and use."
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Most Complete Topographical Map of Earth Complete

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  • The other %1? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by basementman (1475159) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:16PM (#28531203) Homepage
    Anyone know last 1% isn't mapped? Is it just hard to access or is it part of a top secret organization?
    • by Eccles (932)

      As noted by some. This also has been the most detailed fail.

      Don't tell me they left the lens cap on *again*!...

  • by Inf0phreak (627499) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:25PM (#28531385)
    http://blogs.thehumanjourney.net/oaubuntu/entry/world_s_most_detailed_fail [thehumanjourney.net]

    This error message sums it up pretty well:

    Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e4d'

    [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Too many client tasks.

    /index.asp, line 3

    Acess?! Really?!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by idji (984038)
      and I got this error message many hours before slashdot ran the story. So it was slashdotted long before being slashdotted
    • by euxneks (516538)
      I doubt that's the actual location for the dataset. I was able to access their site and they linked off to another place for the ASTER data, to here:
      https://wist.echo.nasa.gov/~wist/api/imswelcome/
      I cannot access the data however.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e4d'

      [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Too many client tasks. /index.asp, line 3

      Aw man. I was hoping the error message would include a graphic of the Fail Shuttle.

  • Original Sources (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:29PM (#28531483) Journal

    Apparently, the data will be free to download and use.

    You know, it never ceases to amaze me that CNN, BBC, Fox News, everybody who's a major player can't link to the original source of information [nasa.gov] (and Japan's site [ersdac.or.jp]). One might find the warehouse inventory search tool [nasa.gov] (note registration required for ASTER global digital elevation model) interesting to play around with if they are interested in the story.

  • ...will they update it? With all the movements throughout the globe from earthquakes, volcanoes, tectonic movement, etc, you'd think this data would be invalidated in 5-10 years.

    IANAG though.
    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:38PM (#28531639)

      Actually, the data is stored on write-once media, so they've decided to just go out every Dec 31 and push the continental shelves back to their Jan 1 position.

    • by penguinchris (1020961) <penguinchris.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @05:14PM (#28535549) Homepage

      That's not really an issue with this type of data. Remember, the resolution is 30m. There is nothing geologic (that would show up in this type of data) that moves anywhere close to that on human time scales.

      There IS data on movement such as those you list, showing real time (in geologic time anyway) movement of the crust due to tectonics, or other things. It's actually a pretty major field in geology, studying minute changes. InSAR and millimeter-accurate differential GPS are two techniques.

      Relatively coarse DEM data like ASTER or SRTM is used for different applications where millimeter accuracy isn't necessary - i.e., most things :)

      Additionally, there is enough inaccuracy in the instrumentation used for DEM data like this that doing multiple passes will give you significantly different results - the error is measured in meters. Therefore, any small changes - and earthquakes, volcanoes, and tectonic movements are small changes in the big scheme of things - are completely irrelevant as they'll be averaged out anyway. It should be interesting to make a comparison to previous datasets, though, and I'm sure there are people working on that already.

      Of course, I suppose you'd notice in this data if a huge volcanic explosion occurred, like when half of Mt. St. Helens blew off. However, that's exceedingly rare :)

      IAAGGS (I am a geology grad student).

  • Seems the project name for this data is ASTER. Of course, what everyone (like me at least) wants to know is how can we import this stuff into Google Earth or NASA World Wind so we can picture the slopes on that mountain bike trail?

    As far as I can tell (from very briefly scanning the Exercises ASTER [wimsoft.com] document earlier), you can do this by downloading some tool that comes from the project itself, and then using it to generate a KML file.

    Not too hard, but does anyone know more, or have a simpler way? I'm sure

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:42PM (#28531701) Homepage

      you can do this by downloading some tool that comes from the project itself, and then using it to generate a KML file.
      Not too hard, but does anyone know more, or have a simpler way?

      You know, posting this sort of comment on a geek site, where you're really expected to not only be able to download files and load them into existing programs, but you're also expected to (in extreme cases at least) be able to hack into the ftp site using a whistle made from old Pringles containers and then write the downloader and application file in 6502 assembly, while creating run on sentences in Slashdot, is likely to get somebody to tell you to go back to Digg.

      • Yeah well, the reason I haven't been able to do those things is that I have work to attend to. But I suppose there are a few unemployed slashdotters who might not understand.

      • by thedonger (1317951) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:55PM (#28531939)

        you can do this by downloading some tool that comes from the project itself, and then using it to generate a KML file. Not too hard, but does anyone know more, or have a simpler way?

        You know, posting this sort of comment on a geek site, where you're really expected to not only be able to download files and load them into existing programs, but you're also expected to (in extreme cases at least) be able to hack into the ftp site using a whistle made from old Pringles containers and then write the downloader and application file in 6502 assembly, while creating run on sentences in Slashdot, is likely to get somebody to tell you to go back to Digg.

        So, are you finished with it yet, or should I go back to reading Digg?

      • by xmundt (415364) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:57PM (#28532975)

        What!!!!! YOU had a pringles can to use as a whistle>????? You kids have it EASY now! In MY day, we had nothing but teeth and pursed lips....and now, alas, nothing but pursed lips..

        Now....GET OFF MY LAWN

        G,D, R
        dave mundt

    • by richlv (778496)

      i'm more interested in how this could be gotten into openstreetmap. instead of pushing data into another restricted system, getting it out to as many people as possible would be more beneficial.

    • The elevation data in Google Earth and World Wind is apparently already based upon the previous best data available - either the SRTM 90m data, or digitized topographic maps. They don't really specify (at least as far as I could tell) but the Google Earth data matches pretty well with the SRTM data.

      That said, the best way to handle data like this is not in Google Earth. I'm guessing eventually they will update their data to incorporate this, unless they are actually using another source. In the mean time, y

    • by Jon_S (15368)

      Google Earth already has elevation data (note, that is what this story is about, elevation data, not aerial photography). The new stuff is probably more accurate than the elevation data google earth uses to do its 3D display, but the resolution of the new elevation data is much greater than the resolution of the aerial image files, so it would not make a hill of beans difference in what you see in google earth.

      Topofusion, a (cheap, but non-free) mapping program that overlaps in functionality with google ea

  • by spdiscus (810661) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:50PM (#28531845)
    Isn't that always true?
  • you can still get a PhD in Geography~

  • Getting an accurate world elevation map essentially for free is really cool. Previously you had to get one of the commercial scenery DVDs that would set you back at least $50.

    After all, having realistic mointain terrain makes flying much nicer and recognizing land features will be much easier. Then map some Sat terrain on top, for example with the Tileproxy application and everything will look just real.

  • it just wouldn't feel right if they consolidated or incorporated the data, or, heaven forbid, unified or merged the data

  •  

    Apparently, the data will be free to download and use."

    My tax dollars already paid for this info.

  • by dkh2 (29130) <.moc.hctIstiTyMoDyhW. .ta. .2hkd.> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:26PM (#28532465) Homepage

    Did anybody else notice that the report of a newsworthy task by U.S. and Japanese agencies was reported by the BBC? Not ABC, NBC, CNN, or any other U.S. based news agency and certainly not by a Japan based agency. It's coverage like this that keeps me going back to the BBC.

    • by pjt33 (739471)

      I read it in the Spanish newspaper El País, although I had to follow their link to the NASA site to get the real details. It's not entirely clear from their story whether the author realised that the handful of images (L.A., a glacier, the Grand Canyon) are false-coloured renders of a DEM.

  • A completely accurate topographical map of the whole Earth? Including possible locations of military installations, elementary schools and donut shops? That's madness!

    You know who would want this kind of information? Terrorists, that's who. If they figure out what the Earth looks like, they might blow it up! Clearly this 'Japan' company is a front for free-lance international terrorists like Hans Gruber, and they must be stopped.

    Keep this dangerous terrorist tool off the market before the children ar

  • Most Complete Topographical Map of Earth Complete

    They invented the Thesaurus [reference.com] so we could avoid situations like this.

    Main Entry: complete
    Part of Speech: verb
    Definition: carry out action
    Synonyms: accomplish, achieve, actualize, cap, close, conclude, consummate, crown, determine, develop, discharge, do, effect, elaborate, end, equip, execute, fill, finalize, finish, fulfill, furnish, halt, make up, perfect, perform, realize, refine, round off, settle, supplement, terminate, ultimate, wind up*, wrap up*,

    • Yeah I was LMAO when I saw the title.

      I would've said "Most Extensive Map... Complete" but strangely enough the word extensive is not in your thesaurus.
  • What's likely to happen with this "free" data is that Navteq, TeleAtlas, and Google will grab it for free, but then the rest of us will have to pay dearly for the privilege of using their commercialized derivative. NASA's license for it should include clauses demanding fees for any commercial uses, and then donate the fees to the FSF or some other org that benefits the Greater Good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arb phd slp (1144717)

      I'm okay with that. The raw data is free, but generally useless to the average person without some interpretation.
      The only thing stopping someone from making a free alternative to those commercial services is lack of cartography skills.

    • by pjt33 (739471)

      NASA may not charge you, but my quick calculation is that we're talking about 1,7 terabytes (uncompressed - it will compress fairly well, but probably still half a terabyte to download) so it's not going to be free to get the whole lot. OTOH if they set up a suitable server then NASA's very own free open-source WorldWind software will allow you to view it, and if you know C# or Java you can write your own filters to false-colour it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by penguinchris (1020961)

      The previous SRTM data is available completely free to the end-user. I downloaded several gigabytes of it for use in my thesis.

      There are commercial vendors who will provide you somewhat better versions of it - with the holes filled, and the individual tiles stitched together. But for someone actually working with the data, that's not really worth much because you can do it yourself in a few minutes.

      I'm trying to get the new data right now - I'm still working on my thesis and this will be really great stuff

  • So, it's the most complete complete map. But, is it completely complete? Just checking.
  • When I look up the total land area of the earth i get different numbers ranging from 148M sq. km to 153M sq. km.
    So an average of 150.5M sq. km + or minus @2.5M sq. km or @965k sq. miles

    So they're mapping to less than the margin of error for different sources as to the total land area.
    But what I find interesting is that there appears to be variations equal to three times the area of Alaska (656k sq. Miles).

    http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/DanielChen.shtml [hypertextbook.com]

  • Hiking, etc... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PhotoGuy (189467) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @03:00PM (#28533827) Homepage

    This will (well, could) be great for geek hikers like myself; I find the topographical maps available okay, but don't really give one an accurate feel for the lay of the land. Incorporating this map into GPS (or, in the shorter term, some open source mapping software on a PDA-sized device) will be very cool...

    Sigh, one of these days I hope to look at the beautiful surroundings nature provides, more than I look at my gadgets I bring with me :) Oh well, navigating/mapping is half the fun of exploring, to me (whether in a car, boat, or on foot).

  • How bad are we that when they say they mapped 99% of the Earth, we all ask what was the 1% that was missed?

    It's like when the poor kid comes home with 99% on their test, and their father says, "what did you get wrong?". Talk about giving people a complex!

    By the way, it's probably the poles where the orbital inclination doesn't allow the satellites to see.

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