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Shuttle Radar Topography Mission

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In February 2000, the Space Shuttle Endeavour flew an 11 day mission called the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) to map the earth’s surface. What resulted was a digital elevation model that covers land areas between 60° N and 56°S at a resolution of 90m. More detailed 30m coverage is available for the United States.

TheSRTM’s homepage is, surprisingly, not much to look at. Neither is it a good place to start your hunt for data. Another page provides a short description as to what the SRTM is all about but it also is not a good place to start looking for data. For an example what the data looks like, visit the SRTM gallery page. Check out the SRTM digital elevation model with a Landsat overlay of Mount Kilamanjaro, for instance.

To download data, go to the Seamless Data Distribution Page’s international data page. This page provides an ArcIMS map that you can navigate and use to download a number of different datasets, most of them restricted to the extent of the United States. To view and download, be sure to have “SRTM 90m shaded relief” checked off on both the Display and Download tabs on the right. This page, surprisingly, only provides SRTM 90m data for North and South America below 60° N. A more extensive and complete dataset is available elsewhere in 1° tile format in zipped hgt files.

Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to view what you’ve downloaded is to use 3Dem, a free terrain visualization software. Not only does it allow you to view digital elevation models in a variety of different file formats, but it allows you to create flybys and 3-D views, as well as export capabilities. It also allows you to drape geo-referenced images over the digital elevation models.

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