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# GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy

## Introduction to Geodesy: Concepts in Geodesy

The
The Ellipsoid
Ellipsoid and
and the
the
Reference
Reference Surface
Surface
Lecture No. 4

## Department of Geodetic Engineering

University of the Philippines

a.s. caparas/06

Geometric
Geometric Models
Models of
of the
the Earth
Earth
• Some of the Earth’s surfaces
as proposed by the different
mathematicians and
philosopher can be
represented by different
geometric models.
• Geometric models that are
used to represent earth’s
surface are generally called a
“spheroid”.
• Among these spheroids, the
Oblate Spheroid or the
Ellipsoid of Revolution
represent the flattened earth
as proposed by Newton and
Huygen
• This figure represents best,
geometrically, the surface of
the earth
Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

1
Ellipsoid of Revolution
• An ellipsoid of revolution is the
figure which would be formed by
rotating an ellipse about its shorter
axis
• An ellipsoid of revolution is
uniquely defined by specifying two
dimensions
• Geodesists, by convention, use
the semi-major axis and flattening
• The size is represented by the
major axis- and designated by the
letter, a
• The shape of the ellipsoid is given
by the flattening, f, which indicates
how closely an ellipsoid
approaches the spherical shape
• Semi-major axis and the flattening
are just two among the elements
and parameters of the ellipse used
for the ellipsoid.
Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

The
The Ellipse
Ellipse and
and its
its Fundamental
Fundamental Parameters
Parameters
• An ellipse is a conic
section defined as the z

P1 P

P2

## moves such that the sum

of the distances of the A
x

## point from two fixed F2 O F1

points is a constant b

• An ellipse has B a

fundamental parameters
which determines its The sum of the distances of the red, blue, and grey
lines are all equal to a constant value
shape and elements
which determines its size

Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

2
The
The Ellipse
Ellipse and
and its
its Fundamental
Fundamental Parameters
Parameters
The elements of the
ellipse are: z

P1 P

P2

## 2. Center of the ellipse

A

3. Semi-major axis, a F2 O F1
x

4. Semi-minor axis, b
b

5. Focal distance, c B a

Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

The
The Ellipse
Ellipse and
and its
its Fundamental
Fundamental Parameters
Parameters

The fundamental
parameters of the ellipse
Formulas:
are:
a−b
1. Flattening or Polar f =
a
Flattening, f
a 2 - b2 a 2 − b2
e= ; e2 =
2. First Eccentricity, e a a2
a 2 - b2 a 2 − b2
3. Second Eccentricity, e’ e' =
b
; (e' )2 =
b2
4. Angular Eccentricity, α cos α = 1 − f ; sin α = e ; tan α = e'

Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

3
Ellipsoid
Ellipsoid of
of Revolution
Revolution vs.
vs. Sphere
Sphere
• Earth can also be
modeled as a sphere
• The difference between
the ellipsoid of revolution
representing the earth
and a sphere is very
small
• The difference in the
semi-major axis and the
semi-minor axis of the
ellipsoids used to
represent the earth is
Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

Ellipsoids
by Different
Different Countries
Countries

Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

4
Ellipsoid
Ellipsoid as
as aa Reference
Reference Surface
Surface
• The Earth
– 1st approximation: Sphere
– 2nd approximation: Ellipsoid of Revolution

## • It is easier to handle mathematically (compared

to the actual unknown shape of the Earth)

## • The deviations of the actual gravity field from the

ellipsoidal “normal” field are so small (compared
to the size of the Earth; <100m) that they can be
considered linear.
Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

Ellipsoid
Ellipsoid as
as aa Reference
Reference Surface
Surface
• With many expeditions and refined
measurements, several ellipsoid models
gained acceptance as a geometric figure
for the Earth such as Bessel (1/299.153),
Clarke (1/294.978), etc.

## • To date, there are several ellipsoids that

are claimed to best fit the true shape of the
earth.
Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

5
1. Since an ellipsoid is always used as a
reference for geodetic surveys, the same
ellipsoid can be used both as a
geometrical and a physical surface.

## 2. The closed formulas for the level

ellipsoid permit not only the a clear-cut
and precise definition of the normal
gravity field, but also practical
computations of any accuracy.
Concepts in Geodesy:
Lecture 4 GE 161 – Geometric Geodesy The Ellipsoid and the Reference
Surface

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