Terascale Topographic Maps
"Military Wary of Map's Release"
NASA is creating the most detailed topographic map of the Earth ever produced -- but its public dissemination has become a point of contention between the space agency and the Department of Defense.
The three-dimensional map derives from a mission of the space shuttle Endeavour in February of last year. A radar interferometer system tethered to the shuttle's cargo bay bounced microwaves off the surface of the planet and read back the results for ten days straight.
The map contains information that researchers can apply to a range of uses -- from predicting floods and mudslides to providing a database of terrain hazards for airplanes, or siting radio and cell phone towers.
But it will also be used for military targeting and reconnaissance -- and the Pentagon wants to ensure other countries or organizations can't use the map for the same purposes.
(cc) image by Jerry7171