Map facts

25th August 2012 by Helen



We use maps printed on paper when we are driving.  It’s a bit old fashioned but we like it because we lay the map out on the floor and see where everything is in the country much more easily this way.

Maps of all different parts of the world can be seen on a website called Google Maps.  You can probably even see your house the maps are so detailed.

But how did we get maps in the first place?

Right now we are travelling in Chile in South America.  We are using modern paper maps but in the early 1800′s it took Alexander von Humboldt five years to prepare the maps of South America.

With two modern satellites it takes just three years to make a map of the whole world.

The satellites are called TanDem-X and TerraSAR-X.  They orbit the earth at a height of 319 miles.  That’s about the same distance as it is from London to Liverpool!!  Despite being so far away from the earth they can see reall good detail and scientists are using the data from the satellites to make a 3D map of the earth.

Over three years the two satellites will send 1,572,863 gigabytes of data.  That’s really hard to imagine.  If you were to put all that data on to DVD’s you would have so many DVDs that if you put them one on top of each other the pile would be 430 metres high!!



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