NRC Study: Precision Geodetic Infrastructure: National Requirements for a Shared Resources

…from the Committee on the National Requirements for Precision Geodetic Infrastructure; Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics; National Research Council…

“Recognizing that the precise geodetic infrastructure is a shared national resource, and responding to the Decadal Survey’s warning that this infrastructure is degrading and at risk of collapse, NASA, NOAA, NSF, USGS, the U.S. Naval Observatory, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency asked the National Research Council to establish a committee to assess the state of the U.S. geodetic infrastructure, to define the need for and role played by this infrastructure, and to make recommendations on how to maintain its viability in the future.

“Geodesy is the science of accurately measuring the Earth’s shape, orientation in space, and gravity field, and the changes in these properties over time. The precision of geodetic measurements has increased by several orders of magnitude over the past half century; in that time span, geodesy has proven immensely valuable for both scientific and commercial applications. Techniques and instrumentation developed for geodesy have enabled scientists to determine the changing position of any point on the Earth with centimeter accuracy or better. They also provide the technological underpinnings for accurately determining satellite orbits, measuring sea level rise, determining flood maps, monitoring coastal wetland changes, assessing groundwater resources, and monitoring earthquakes and other natural hazards. Even more precise and reliable geodetic measurements could enable an enormous array of advanced applications in autonomous navigation, precision agriculture, space exploration, hazard prediction, and other areas. Geodetic measurements are made using a variety of satellites, ground-based sensors and receivers, laser ranging devices, radio beacons, radio telescopes, and data-integration methods—a set of tools collectively known as the precise geodetic infrastructure.”