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  • Maps withheld as Pentagon focuses on security

The US Department of Defense is delaying the release of the most comprehensive topographical maps of the Earth ever produced.

The maps are currently being assembled from data collected by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (STRM). This joint project between the defence department and NASA — with additional contributions from the German Aerospace Center and the Italian Space Agency — aims to provide high-resolution maps of 80 per cent of the Earth’s land surface by the end of 2002.

But after the 11 September terrorist attacks, the Pentagon’s National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), which co-sponsors the project, placed a moratorium on any new releases of data pending a review of their implications for national security.

Reference: Nature 414, 831 (2001)

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