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Geodesy

  • By: Jonathan Iliffe
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The literal meaning of geodesy is “division of the Earth,” and it can therefore be said that at its most fundamental level, the subject is concerned with positioning on the surface of the Earth. More narrowly, the subject is understood to apply principally to applications with an extent or accuracy that demands a consideration of the true shape of the planet (in contrast with surveying, which may be more concerned with flat Earth approximations).

More broadly, however, geodesy necessarily encompasses the range of mathematical and scientific topics that relate to the determination of the shape and size of the Earth, its representation in coordinate terms and computations within these coordinate systems, map projections, positioning, and height determination techniques (in particular satellite-based systems). It can therefore be ...

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