Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)

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High resolution image of Africa with colors indicating topography.
Color shaded-relief image of Africa created from SRTM data. Map color-coding is directly related to topographic height, with brown and yellow indicating lower elevations and green and white indicating higher elevations. Blue areas represent water. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) payload flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during the STS-99 mission. SRTM collected topographic data over nearly 80% of Earth's land surfaces, creating the first-ever near-global dataset of land elevations.

The SRTM payload consisted of two radar antennas, one located in the shuttle's payload bay and the other installed on the end of a 200-foot mast that extended from the payload bay. Each SRTM radar assembly contained two types of antenna panels: C-band and X-band. C-band radar data were used to create near-global topographic maps of Earth called Digital Elevation Models (DEMs).

Data from the X-band radar were used to create slightly higher resolution DEMs but without the global coverage of the C-band radar. The two radar datasets were combined to create interferogramatic maps of scanned areas. SRTM measurements took place February 11-22, 2000.

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