Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Data Offer A Safari Into Vast African Topography

Date:
June 24, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Newly released topographic data from NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency provide 21st century explorers new ways to traverse the wonders of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar.

This prominent circular feature, known as the Richat Structure, in the Sahara desert of Mauritania is often noted by astronauts because it forms a conspicuous 50-kilometer-wide (30-mile-wide) bull's-eye on the otherwise rather featureless expanse of the desert. Initially mistaken for a possible impact crater, it is now known to be an eroded circular anticline (structural dome) of layered sedimentary rocks.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Newly released topographic data from NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency provide 21st century explorers new ways to traverse the wonders of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar.

Courtesy of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, African topography can be studied and understood as never before. The mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the German and Italian space agencies.

The exotic and often harsh terrain portrayed in movies like "Out of Africa," "The African Queen" and "Lawrence of Arabia," is shrouded in mystery to many Westerners. The vast, often inaccessible territory has some of Earth's most diverse, extreme and breathtaking topography, much of it hidden behind a veil of persistent cloud cover.

Dr. Michael Kobrick, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said the new data are a hot commodity. "The demand for Africa and Arabia digital elevation data is brisk. The data are being used for varied applications such as studies of earthquakes, volcanism and erosion patterns."

To embark on a safari of 12 new compelling images and a new fly-around animation, visit http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/africa.htm.

The new data represent about one-fourth of the total data from the mission. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission radar system mapped Earth's topography between 56 degrees south and 60 degrees north of the equator in February 2000. The resolution of the data is three arc-seconds, which is 1/1,200th of a degree of latitude and longitude, or about 90 meters (295 feet). While that's not quite good enough to spot a snake in the Serengeti or corral a Saharan camel, it's more than enough to capture our imaginations, and pique the interests of scientists.

"The shape of Earth's surface affects nearly every natural process and human endeavor," said Dr. John LaBrecque, manager, Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. One interesting African application is Mount Kilimanjaro. Its glaciers are rapidly shrinking and are expected to disappear soon, if the rates continue. By combining satellite imagery with elevation data, scientists can better monitor and understand environmental changes.

Africa's topography is diverse. The northern continent consists of plateaus and basins, many of which have filled with sand and gravel to create the Sahara. The converging African and Eurasian tectonic plates created the Atlas Mountains. Africa’s central latitudes are dominated by the Great Rift Valley, a geological fault system. To the west lies the vast, shallow Congo Basin. Most of southern Africa rests on a plateau comprising the Kalahari basin and a mountainous fringe, skirted by a coastal plain that widens out in Mozambique.

The Arabian Peninsula, now the southwest part of Asia, split from Africa about 30 million years ago. Abrupt cliffs along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden provide evidence of this massive rip in Earth's crust. The peninsula’s northeastward migration is also evident in topography as it collides with the rest of Asia to form mountains in Iran and slides past the Mediterranean region to create the Dead Sea fault. At the Dead Sea, some stretching has accompanied the sliding, creating Earth's lowest land elevation.

Previous mission releases covered Eurasia and North and South America. The final release this summer will include Australia, New Zealand and various islands. Together, these data constitute the world’s first high-resolution, near-global elevation model.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s one arc-second (30 meters or 98.4 feet) elevation data products for the United States and territorial islands are also available at http://edc.usgs.gov/ .

JPL processed input into research-quality digital elevation data. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency provides additional processing to develop mapping products. The U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center provides final archiving and data product distribution.

For more information about the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission on the Internet, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm .

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Data Offer A Safari Into Vast African Topography." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040623084020.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, June 24). NASA Data Offer A Safari Into Vast African Topography. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040623084020.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Data Offer A Safari Into Vast African Topography." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040623084020.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins