08 April, 2013

A To Z Challenge: Geodesy And GPS

Geodesy is the study of planet Earth's physical characteristics. It uses mathematics to determine precise geographical points and measure the size and shape of sections of the surface; geodesy also includes physics and astronomy to make calculations and build accurate models of the planet.

One leap in geodesy has been the arrival of satellite technology. As you might expect, this has greatly expanded the amount of data available--scientists can now see things that had been previously out of view. Studies of the water cycle, glaciers and ice sheets, atmospheric temperature, and other global events have since revealed complex interactions across continents.

However, the most familiar application of geodesy is probably your everyday Global Positioning System or GPS. Geodesy is the scientific field that developed techniques for pinpointing an object's location on the surface and methods of tracking said object. In many cases, this is likely your car or phone.

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Sources:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/geodesy
http://www.jqjacobs.net/astro/geodesy.html
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/geodesy.html
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_geodesy/
http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/PUBS_LIB/Geodesy4Layman/TR80003A.HTM#ZZ2
http://www.agu.org/sections/geodesy/
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/earth-from-space.html

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Have you ever tried GPS? Do you use it often? Have you ever run into glitches like we did once, where it sent us around a roundabout an extra few miles because it didn't understand the building we were looking for was on the other side of the roundabout?


-----The Golden Eagle

25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't know that! Scary how people can be tracked with their phones now.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

I for one use the GPS on my smart phone at least once a day. It's great, so I'm thankful for this technology.

Charles Gramlich said...

I was just talking with some friends at lunch about using satellite imaging to uncover ancient human civilization sites.

Pat Hatt said...

I have used it a time or two, can be useful at ones zoo.

Old Kitty said...

I love how this science is used for the sublime to the mundane!!!

And I for one never heard of it till now! So thank you!! Take care
x

Laura Marcella said...

Hello! I don't use GPS. It's annoying and distracting while driving. I look up the directions ahead of time and know where I'm going!

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Susan Kane said...

Being so easily located and tracked scares me. Going off the grid takes on new meaning.

D.G. Hudson said...

I love the GPS technology. Anything that lets me use aerial technology is a good thing.

I need landmarks, or GPS.

Mark Means said...

Satellites and computers have changed almost every aspect of our lives.

Very interesting stuff!

Elise Fallson said...

GPS saved my life when I worked in Paris and had to drive in the city.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

We use GPS alot, especially in cities like Boston that are so confusing. We have had a lot of laughs when it tells us to turn around sometimes. I love it.

Jeff Hargett said...

And they tell us Big Brother isn't watching. Power to the paranoid! (It really is a cool technology though.)

Cindy Dwyer said...

Love GPS and its counterparts and they've gotten much better. I first used map quest years ago when I was an auditor and my company paid our mileage based on the mileage from map quest. The program always told me to leave my driveway, take a left, go half a mile and make a u-turn to bring me passed my driveway again before heading out of the neighborhood. LOL!

Ava Quinn said...

I'm truly old skool. I love a map and trust my own mind more than a computer chip. But my in-laws insisted, and gave us one as a gift. We used it once, and it tried to assassinate us by instructing us to go down a one way street. The wrong way. I just knew it had to be the beginning of the computer uprising. Haven't used it since.

Krista McLaughlin said...

I definitely didn't know that! I don't use GPS that often, unless I'm really really lost. :)

Adam said...

I used my GPS until it broke

Maurice Mitchell said...

I had such a poor sense of directon that I used to keep a well-worn city map in my car. Now, I couldn't live without GPS. Great info Eagle!

Susan Roebuck said...

I am so not surprised about how satellites can track us. Sometimes it might be useful and if anyone's following me, they'll be bored stiff! I never use a GPS, but I should because I hate driving to places I've never been before.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

When I'm navigating LA, I go for the GPS. That's about the only jungle I can't manage on my own.

Brinda said...

I use GPS technology weekly. It's terrific. I am map and direction challenged, so I'm willing to drive down the oddball backroad when traveling.

Margo Kelly said...

AW. I have a plot point in my current manuscript that addresses the issue of GPS tracking in a cell phone. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: It is. I've installed a VPN service on mine, but I don't know if it does anything for GPS tracking.

Michael: I haven't used it much, I'll admit. I know my way around the area fairly well.

Charles: That's a really cool use of satellites!

Pat: It sounds like it can be. I've just never had cause to really use it extensively. :P

Old Kitty: I do, too.

You're welcome! :)

Laura: It's always nice to know exactly where you're going beforehand!

Susan: I watched a TV show called The Last Enemy about that; it was disturbing to consider how close we are to complete surveillance.

D.G.: I love seeing things from above. :)

Mark: They definitely have.

Elise: I'd imagine it would be helpful in a busy place like Paris! There must be a lot of feedback there, too, so the program can adapt to the actual streets and so forth.

Susan: Yeah, there are the occasional bugs in GPS. LOL.

Jeff: There's certainly the capability to track people these days.

Cindy: That's so funny. I wonder why it never figured that out.

Ava: It can be hilarious when technology tries to tell people to do obviously impossible things . . . but that must have been frustrating! My mom has avoided GPS ever since the roundabout incident we had as well.

Krista: When in doubt, I suppose it's the best option!

Adam: Aw, it's too bad it broke.

Maurice: Glad you liked it! :)

Susan: LOL. I'm sure they'd be unimpressed with my movements, too.

Lee: I've never tried using GPS in a really busy city. It seems like it could be quite handy, though, provided everything worked right.

Brinda: It must be useful, in that case!

Margo: Cool. :)

Jagoda said...

I don't know how I ever found my way without GPS. I don't worry too much about being tracked. I try to live a boring enough life from the POV of trackers so why would they want to see what I was up to? I do understand that there are privacy issues and gov policies have not caught up with these snazzy technologies yet.

The Golden Eagle said...

Jagoda: I think it's the government (and military) that most people worry about when it comes to tracking and GPS. Particularly unwarranted surveillance and so forth.

Paul Tobin said...

GPS is very useful. I have it on my phone.