Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD)
SRTM Quick Guide
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (JPL) Webpage
DEM Comparison Guide
The Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) is responsible for the archive and distribution of NASA Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) SRTM, which includes the global 3 arc second (~90 meter) number product.
The NASA SRTM data sets result from a collaborative effort by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA - previously known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, or NIMA), as well as the participation of the German and Italian space agencies. This collaboration aims to generate a near-global digital elevation model (DEM) of Earth using radar interferometry. SRTM was the primary (and virtually only) payload on the STS-99 mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which launched February 11, 2000 and ﬂew for 11 days.
The SRTM swaths extended from ~30 degrees off-nadir to ~58 degrees off-nadir from an altitude of 233 kilometers (km), creating swaths ~225 km wide, and consisted of all land between 60° N and 56° S latitude to account for 80% of Earth’s total landmass.
Ancillary one-byte (0 to 255) “NUM” (number) files were produced for NASA SRTM Version 3. These files have names corresponding to the elevation files, except with the extension “.NUM” (such as N37W105.NUM). The elevation files use the extension “.HGT”, meaning height (such as N37W105.HGT). The separate NUM file indicates the source of each DEM pixel; the number of ASTER scenes used (up to 100), if ASTER; and the number of SRTM data takes (up to 24), if SRTM. The NUM file for both 3 arc second products (whether sampled or averaged) references the 3 x 3 center pixel. Note that NUMs less than 6 are water and those greater than 10 are land. The 3 arc second data was derived from the 1 arc second using sampling and averaging methods. (See Figure 3 in the User Guide)
The global 3 arc second number product is also available in NetCDF4 format as the SRTMGL3_NUMNC dataset and can be used with the corresponding SRTMGL3_NC elevation product.
|File Size||~0.05 MB|
|Temporal Extent||2000-02-11 to 2000-02-21|
|Spatial Extent||Global (60°N to 56°S, 180°W to 180°E)|
|Coordinate System||Geographic Latitude and Longitude|
|File Format||NUM or NetCDF4|
|Geographic Dimensions||1° x 1°|
|Number of Science Dataset (SDS) Layers||1|
|Columns/Rows||1201 x 1201|
|Pixel Size||~90 m|
|SDS Name||Description||Units||Data Type||Fill Value||No Data Value||Valid Range||Scale Factor|
|NUM||Source of Input Data||N/A||8-bit unsigned integer||See table below||N/A||0 to 255||N/A|
|1||Water-masked SRTM void|
|2||Water-masked SRTM non-void|
|5||GDEM elevation = 0 in SRTM void (used to help correct ocean masking)|
|21||GMTED2010 oversampled from 7.5 arc second postings|
|25||SRTM within GDEM|
|31||NGA fill of SRTM via GDEM|
|52||USGS NED via GDEM|
|53||Alaska USGS NED via GDEM|
|72||Canadian Digital Elevation Data (CDED) via GDEM|
|101 to 200||ASTER granule count (count limited to 100)|
|201 to 224||SRTM swath count (non-voided swaths), actual maximum=24|
Scientists used a method called Kinematic Global Positioning System Geodetic field surveying to validate the SRTM data. This method facilitates the very rapid long lines of precise positions from a moving vehicle. Several entities conducted the actual survey work, including private contractors, NGA geodesists and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientists. In all, about 70,000 kilometers of survey lines were collected in support of this mission. The data were used to model long-wavelength error sources.
In addition, NASA’s JPL deployed corner reflectors during the mission. These are highly reflective structures that appear as a bright point in the radar image. These reflectors deployed with precisely measured coordinates, served as control points in the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data.
Known issues in the NASA SRTM are described in the following publication: Rodriguez, E., C. S. Morris, and J. E. Belz (2006), A global assessment of the SRTM performance, Photogramm. Eng. Remote Sens., 72, 249–260. https://doi.org/10.14358/PERS.72.3.249