NASA and Japan Create Spectacular Map of Earth (Video)

NASA ASTER image 1NASA/Public Domain

Google Earth is the go-to software for viewing the planet in detail. However, a new topographical map created by NASA and Japan's Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, instrument is showing up even Google Earth with a "global digital elevation model" that has a 3D effect.

NASA ASTER image 2NASA/Public Domain

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NASA writes that this is a "a significantly improved version of the most complete digital topographic map of Earth on Monday, produced with detailed measurements from NASA's Terra spacecraft."

The map covers 99% of Earth's landmass, and the attention to accuracy is fairly striking -- its measurement points are a mere 98 feet apart. The improvements also include the addition of 260,000 stereo-pair images (two images slightly offset from one another to create a 3D effect) to the map.

It is also free to use.

Oahu via NASANASA/Public Domain

The Hawaiian Island of Oahu

"This updated version of the ASTER global digital elevation model provides civilian users with the highest-resolution global topography data available," said Mike Abrams, ASTER science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "These data can be used for a broad range of applications, from planning highways and protecting lands with cultural or environmental significance, to searching for natural resources."

If you enjoy maps of the Earth, we are quite certain you'll love this. And if Google Earth has been able to accomplish wonderful things for the environmental movement then we can't wait to see what this may be used for.

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NASA and Japan Create Spectacular Map of Earth (Video)
The most complete topographical map is free, and simply gorgeous to see.