Sizing Up Earth

  • Released Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:52PM
  • ID: 11010

At a given point in time, Earth usually seems stable. But over centuries, lands rise and sink, continents move and the balance of the ocean shifts. These changes are tracked through the science of geodesy, dedicated to measuring and precisely charting the size and shape of Earth. Geodesy began more than 2,000 years ago, when the Greek scholar Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of Earth with impressive accuracy. In modern geodesy, scientists use multiple techniques to map the world's ice sheets, watch sea level creep up and monitor the impact of earthquakes, droughts and floods. This animated video looks at the long history of geodesy and highlights some of the technologies NASA uses, such as radio telescopes and long-range lasers, to take the basic measure of our planet.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center