MaxTardiveau writes with an excerpt from an article where the pictures are worth clicking through for: "Ten years ago, in February 2000, NASA mapped the entire world in eleven days. It's true: the mission was called the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), and over the course of eleven days, it used a big radar attached to the space shuttle to get elevation data from the vast majority of solid Earth; practically all land between 60 degrees North and 56 degrees South was included, with a resolution of 30 meters (90 feet). Over 9 terabytes of data were captured. It then took two years to process that data and make it usable (and it is still being refined to this day). This data is freely available to anyone, and the number of possible applications is almost infinite. It's been used in GIS, cartography, environmental planning, weather modeling (weather patterns are enormously influenced by the topography), flight simulators, Google Earth, and the list goes on. In this short article, I would like to give you a quick tour of the kinds of things this data can reveal. My hope is to get you thinking about what else could be done with this incredible resource."