These two images show exactly the same area, Manila Bay and nearby volcanoes on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The image on the left was created using the best global topographic data set previously available, the U.S. Geological Survey's GTOPO30. In contrast, the much more detailed image on the right was generated with data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which collected enough measurements to map 80 percent of Earth's landmass at this level of precision.
The city of Manila is on the eastern shore of Manila Bay at the right edge of the image. The large central plain to the north of the bay, irrigated by the Panpanga and Agno rivers, is the most important agricultural region in the Philippines. The Bataan Peninsula and volcanic Mt. Bataan at lower center along with the small island of Corregidor near the bottom edge became famous when the Allied forces made their last stand there during World War II. Dominating the upper left of the scene is 1,600 meter (5,249 foot) high Mt. Pinatubo, whose violent eruption on June 15, 1991, wrought widespread destruction on Luzon as well as injecting dust and gas into the atmosphere, which lowered global average temperatures for over a year.
The image on the right combines two types of Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data. The image brightness corresponds to the strength of the radar signal reflected from the ground, while colors show the elevation measurements. Colors range from blue at the lowest elevations to brown and white at the highest elevations.
For some parts of the globe, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission measurements are 30 times more precise than previously available topographical information, according to NASA scientists. Mission data will be a welcome resource for national and local governments, scientists, commercial enterprises, and members of the public alike. The applications are as diverse as earthquake and volcano, flood control, transportation, urban and regional planning, aviation, recreation, and communications. The data's military applications include mission planning and rehearsal, modeling, and simulation.
Elevation data used in this image was acquired by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, launched on Feb. 11, 2000. The mission used the same radar instrument that comprised the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) that flew twice on Endeavour in 1994. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission was designed to collect 3-D measurements of Earth's surface. To collect the 3-D data, engineers added a 60-meter (approximately 200-foot) mast, installed additional C-band and X-band antennas, and improved tracking and navigation devices. The mission is a cooperative project between NASA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the German and Italian space agencies. It is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, Washington, D.C.
Size: 111 kilometers by 109 kilometers (69 miles by 68 miles)
Location: 15 degrees North latitude, 120.5 degrees East longitude
Orientation: North is at the top
Date Acquired: February 2000 (SRTM)