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3D View of Los Angeles
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
Californias topography poses challenges for road
builders. Northwest of Los Angeles, deformation of Earths crust along the
Pacific-North American crustal plate boundary has made transportation
difficult. Direct connection between metropolitan Los Angeles (image lower
left) and Californias Central Valley (image top center) through the rugged
terrain seen on the left side of this image was long avoided in favor of longer
but easier paths. However, over the last century, three generations of roads
have traversed this terrain. The first was The Ridge Route, a two-lane road,
built in 1915, which followed long winding ridge lines that included 697
curves. The second, built in 1933, was to become four-lane U.S. Highway 99. It
generally followed widened canyon bottoms. The third is the current eight lane
Interstate 5 freeway, built in the 1960s, which is generally notched into
hillsides, but also includes a stretch of several miles where the two
directions of travel are widely separated and driving is on the left, a
rarity in the United States. Such an unusual highway configuration was
necessary in order to optimize the road grades for uphill and downhill traffic
in this topographically challenging setting.
This anaglyph was generated by first draping a Landsat satellite image over a
preliminary topographic map from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), then
generating two differing perspectives, one for each eye. When viewed through
special glasses, the result is a vertically exaggerated view of the Earths
surface in its full three dimensions. Anaglyph glasses cover the left eye with
a red filter and cover the right eye with a blue filter. Landsat has been
providing visible and infrared views of the Earth since 1972. SRTM elevation
data matches the 30 meter resolution of most Landsat images and will
substantially help in analyses of the large and growing Landsat image archive.
The elevation data used in this image was acquired by the Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission (SRTM) aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, launched on
February 11, 2000. SRTM 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 the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1994. SRTM was designed to collect
three-dimensional measurements of the Earths surface. To collect the 3-D data,
engineers added a 60-meter-long (200-foot) mast, installed additional C-band
and X-band antennas, and improved tracking and navigation devices. The mission
is a cooperative project between the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) of the
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the German and Italian space agencies. It
is managed by NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, for NASAs Earth
Science Enterprise, Washington, DC.
Size (of full images): 141 by 107 kilometers (88 by 66 miles)
Location: 34.5 deg. North lat., 118.7 deg. West lon.
Orientation: North toward upper right
Image: Landsat bands 1, 2&4, 3 as blue, green, and red, respectively
Date Acquired: February 16, 2000 (SRTM), November 11, 1986 (Landsat)