Download Bathymetry from Space

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what we mean by resolution
A feature is “resolved” if it stands out clearly above the background noise caused by measurement
errors. “Resolution” is a function of both instrument error and feature size. A physical law (“upward
continuation”) prevents a space bathymetry mission from resolving objects much narrower than twice
the regional depth of the ocean water (~8 km in the deep basins). The resolution of existing maps is
suboptimal by about a factor of two to three in feature width (four to nine in area) because of the high
noise in the satellite data caused by ocean waves. It is now possible for a low-cost, low-risk mission
to reduce the noise by a factor of five, achieving feature resolution to the limit set by physical law.
Appalachia
To illustrate the improvement possible,
these maps show how Appalachia and the
Grand Canyon would look if the topography had been generated by the space
bathymetry technique using existing data
(left box), and data that are less noisy by
a factor of four (right box). The better data
show faults and drainage patterns in the
Grand Canyon, and individual ridges and
Grand Canyon
valleys and their curvature
in the Allegheny Mountains.
5
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