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December 12, 2001
3:39 PM   Subscribe

NASA creates the most detailed topographic map of the Earth ever produced. The new map is a result of data gathered on shuttle mission STS-99 in February 2000.

The catch? DOD doesnt want most of it released. (link via Wired)
posted by Irontom (8 comments total)

 
I've yet to see a single satellite picture of Mumbai (Bombay). I can understand the reasons for keeping such satellite maps out of the general publics reach, but it would be amazing to have the entire earth covered by sites like terraserver.com
posted by riffola at 4:07 PM on December 12, 2001


it would be amazing to have the entire earth covered by sites like terraserver.com

Stay tuned.

Granted, it's going to be a long wait, but DARPA and NASA, and a schload of other groups are working on it. They main drag at this point is getting everyone to agree on standards, but the data are out there.
posted by badstone at 4:18 PM on December 12, 2001


I think this is a revealing indicator of the DOD's new defensive strategy. They clearly plan to increase the effectiveness of the missile defense shield by coupling it with new stealth continent technology!
posted by srboisvert at 4:28 PM on December 12, 2001


There's some obvious reason for concern. GPS data has similar implications for security and militarized applications. The difference is that the GPS signal can be turned off.
posted by dhartung at 6:02 PM on December 12, 2001


Dhartung -

Obvious reasons for concern depend entirely on your point of view. How is it dangerous for people, all people to have an accurate topo map of the planet?

"The global map ... can make out details as small as 30 meters horizontally and 10 meters vertically."

That's that's 328 feet and 32.8 feet respectively. Can you give a definitive example of how that kind of information is a risk to a military unit?
posted by Irontom at 6:12 PM on December 12, 2001


Do they think the US is the only nation capable of getting this kind of data? It may take a little longer, but you'll be able to get this somewhere else eventually.
posted by ArkIlloid at 7:15 PM on December 12, 2001


That's that's 328 feet and 32.8 feet respectively. Can you give a definitive example of how that kind of information is a risk to a military unit?

How about that terrain feature that isn't on the map? Could it be something (e.g., a military unit) that's been camouflaged?

More to the point, such a map pinpoints targets better than ever before. Add some GPS guidance to your bomb, look up some coordinates on the map (the HQ is 50 meters west of that big ridge) and have at it.
posted by joaquim at 10:49 AM on December 13, 2001


Could it be something (e.g., a military unit) that's been camouflaged?

er... as long as that unit hasn't moved since february and rises a few tens of meters above the ground for an extent of 100 meters or so...
posted by badstone at 10:58 AM on December 13, 2001


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