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The USGS provides the mapping and digital geospatial foundation for the Nation.

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Photograph of Landsat
Both Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 orbit the Earth at an altitude of 705 kilometers (438 miles) in a 185-kilometer (115-mile) swath, moving from north to south over the sunlit side of the Earth in a sun synchronous orbit, following the World Reference System (WRS-2).  Each satellite makes a complete orbit every 99 minutes, completes about 14 full orbits...
1905 Topomap scan of Des Moines
Contour Shapefiles have elevation data stored in the "CONTOURELE" attribute field. To preserve elevations, map the attribute to the elevation of the surface in Civil 3D through an "Alter Properties" query. For more guidance, follow instructions provided in Web pages, such as: http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/autocad-civil-3d-general/contour-elevation...
Zoom of the Black Canyon City, Arizona, US Topo quadrangle.
The USGS National Geospatial Program derives contours from the 3DEP 1/3 arc-second standard Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for US Topo topographic map products. These contours are also distributed as GIS compatible vectors in 1x1 degree tiles through The National Map Download Client. Contours on adjacent US Topo products usually match within 1:24,...
Updated 2015 version of the Madison West US Topo quadrangle
The contour visualization service, Contours (MapServer), will work as WMS or KML. At the top of the page, there are WMS GetCapabilities and Google Earthlinks. For more WMS and KML tips on services or future changes, please review the FAQ category Using TNM Services.
Photo of Santa Fe, New Mexico 2013 United States Topo map
Contours with an elevation of zero were deleted, unless there were also contours with negative elevation values in the same area. This additional processing was done for cosmetic reasons as some of the 3DEP elevation data were not of sufficient quality in coastal areas to facilitate making a satisfactory zero elevation contour.
Part of Washington DC West US Topo quadrangle, 2015
A low-pass filter was applied, which provides the basis for obtaining smoother contours.
El Capitan Quadrangle Topographic map, 2015.
Yes, contours were integrated with hydrography, but only in large scale contours from 36K to 18K.
The Bumble Bee, Arizona US Topo map
Yes, depression contours are identified with tick marks, but only in large scale contours from 36K to 18K.
Contours will be updated on an as-needed basis. When significant changes in the landscape have occurred (such as mountain top removal mining in Kentucky) and are represented by new elevation data, only those areas will be replaced.
Topo map
Large scale contours from US Topo products are included in an ArcGIS RESTservice endpoint or WMS for viewing at scales of 50K and larger. US Topo contours are available for download in The National Map Download Client as staged data that has been pre-packaged in 1x1 degree tiles in Esri File Geodatabase 10.1 or Shapefile format.
Improved Topo Base map of the Glacier Peak WA area
The 500-foot contours are shown at a scale of 578K in base maps, while 100-foot contours are visible at 289K/144K and 50-foot contours are visible at 72K.  Large scale contours from US Topo products are shown from 36K to 18K, and in dynamic base map services for scales larger than 18K.
Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga, TN
Contours cover the conterminous United States at small (578K/289K), medium (144K/72K), and large (36K/18K) scales.