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[infowar.de] 3D-Weltkarte: US-Gebiet wird unscharf veröffentlicht
Die dreidimensionale Weltkarte, die aus den vom Space Shuttle Endeavour
im Februar 2000 erfassten Radardaten derzeit generiert wird, soll nicht
vollständig veröffentlicht werden. Das Pentagon (bzw. dessen
Bildaufklärungsbehörde NIMA) sorgt sich um deren Nutzung für
Waffensteuerungen etc. und will große Gebiete in der öffentlichen
Fassung der Karte künstlich unscharf machen. DIe NASA ist dagegen. Mich
würde ja interessieren, welche Rolle dabei die deutsche Raumfahrtagentur
spielt, die das Projekt immerhin mit finanziert und durchgeführt hat.
Military Wary of Map's Release
By Mark K. Anderson
2:00 a.m. Dec. 12, 2001 PST
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.
A week ago the two opposing parties, NASA and the Pentagon, negotiated
a compromise that, for now, allows a limited release of the American
portion of the map to researchers. The Pentagon keeps the rest to
itself. NASA, however, is working to ultimately make the whole world map
"We would like to release (the map) as soon as possible," said John
LaBrecque of NASA. "But we understand that there are some concerns, and
so we're trying to address them. We can't provide a timetable for the
release of the data to the general public, but we're working on it."
The subject of a poster session on Tuesday at the annual meeting of
the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, the Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission is 12 terabytes of conflicting interests.
The joint mission partners the Pentagon's National Imagery and Mapping
Agency (NIMA) with the German and Italian space agencies. The data
collected -- a quantity of bits greater than the text of all the books
in the Library of Congress -- is now being processed at NASA's Jet
This data generates 3-D maps of the Earth's surface with a level of
resolution that rivals the best topographic maps of North America. The
global map, still a year or more from completion, can make out details
as small as 30 meters horizontally and 10 meters vertically.
The map will eventually cover the entire landmass of the planet
between 60 degrees north latitude and 56 degrees south latitude -- 80
percent of the planet, where 95 percent of the population lives.
"We're going to miss Antarctica and a few places like that where there
are only penguins," said Mike Kobrick of JPL.
Kobrick is a chief scientist in JPL's map processing team, and his
group has already generated virtual fly-overs of the Mojave Desert and
the San Andreas Fault, as well as much of the 3-D map of North America.
Since similar data for North America already exist, his team is now
comparing their new findings with previous maps to fine-tune their
JPL is also cranking out individual maps of areas such as Mount
Pinatubo in the Philippines and the Amazonian rain forest, for limited
release to select geological and geographical researchers. Over the next
year, JPL's computers will generate the global map, which will then be
turned over to the Pentagon's NIMA.
Because the map is so detailed, NIMA is classifying and retaining the
30-meter resolution maps of the Earth's surface outside of the United
States. It is expected, however, to eventually downgrade the resolution
by a factor of three and turn over that data to the U.S. Geological
Survey for public release.
Douglas Alsdorf of UCLA is a researcher who already has designs on the
Shuttle Radar data. He studies the geography of the Amazon basin, and
although the kind of microwaves used in the mission do not penetrate the
thick rainforest forest canopy, he said he thinks this mission could
still provide "amazing" amounts of information.
"The Amazon basin directly affects global climate," Alsdorf said.
"What this map really begins to help us do is (develop) the link between
the global models and local models."
It also would allow him to study erosion and landscape evolution at an
unprecedented level of detail. Previous to the Shuttle Radar Topographic
map, the best data available for the Amazon had a resolution of one
kilometer -- i.e., one elevation measurement for every thousand meters
"But that one has serious errors in it," he said. "In fact, if you try
to use that one to make water flow down the Amazon, you'll get water not
flowing to the mouth. It'll flow someplace else."
Kobrick said that beyond the new radar map's most immediate
application -- "for geologists, hydrologists and lots of other
'ologists," as he put it -- it has many immediate, on-the-ground
It could provide the database for "ground proximity warning systems"
on airplanes, which rely on GPS positioning and topographic maps to
alert a pilot when approaching mountains or other hazards.
And in forecasting the path of floods, avalanches or mudslides, of
course, the key is to find the steepest slope down a hill -- because
that's where the water, mud and rock will go.
"With these digital elevation maps," Kobrick said. "It's easy to tell
where downhill is."
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