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EMPIR geodesy project sees early uptake of new procedure

View on the Geodetic Observatory Wettzell. The GeoMetre project developed novel algorithms for the determination of the reference points for SLR and VLBI telescopes (image: Uwe Hessels / BKG)

Technologies used in satellite navigation, automated machine guidance and surveying require highly accurate measurements of distance and position relative to the Earth’s surface. Geodesy, the science of Earth measurement, applies these technologies to predicting earthquakes, monitoring sea-level rises and ice sheet changes. Modern geodesy measurements are referenced to the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF), but to meet demands for greater accuracy, potential innovations in instrumentation and measurement techniques need further development.

EMPIR project Large-scale dimensional measurements for geodesy (18SIB01, GeoMetre) is working to develop transfer standards traceable to the International System of Units (SI) metre and develop novel geodetic devices.

Although just one third through its three-year lifetime, this project has already seen early uptake of its outputs.

Project participants Frankfurt-University of Applied Sciences and Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy developed an improved procedure using a new algorithm for use with SLR (satellite laser ranging) and VLBI (very-long-baseline interferometry)  telescopes. This was successfully tested and implemented at the Satellite Observing System at Geodetic Observatory Wettzell high up in the hills in Bavaria, Germany.

Florian Pollinger from PTB, and Project Coordinator said

‘Reference point monitoring is one critical issue in the complex measurement infrastructure behind the ITRF. The new procedure helps reducing the associated uncertainties. We hope our project will provide more solutions to further improve the accuracy of this sophisticated and highly important global reference system.’

A video entitled ‘Dynamic reference point determination by terrestrial measurements for the Satellite Laser Ranging telescope at the Geodetic Observatory Wettzell’ can be viewed on the project website.


This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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