Sizing Up Earth

  • Released Tuesday, July 10, 2012
  • Updated Friday, January 26, 2018 at 2:26PM
  • ID: 11010

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One geodesy technique, laser ranging, can track the precise altitude of orbiting satellites and changes in Earth's size, shape and gravity.

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Scientists aim radio telescopes at distant objects called quasars and measure how long it takes their radio signals to reach Earth.

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Minor time differences in telescopes' detection of radio signals from quasars are used to map fine distances and tectonic movements on Earth.

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With exact coordinates provided by geodesy, scientists can monitor the elevation changes in ice sheets and sea level.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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