[Proj] Google Earth Accuracy

support.mn at elisanet.fi support.mn at elisanet.fi
Wed Dec 17 11:45:07 EST 2008


The WGS84 Implementation Manual is a very good source of WGS84,
ITRF/ETRF and datums information.


"The origin and the orientation of coordinate axes in WGS 84 are defined by
the X, Y, Z coordinates of  the five GPS monitoring stations 

SEE page 15.

Historically the coordinates of the GPS tracking sites have been determined
by the use of doppler measurements to the TRANSIT satellite navigation
system. Long observation periods of data have been processed in order to
derive precise station coordinates.

The use of TRANSIT doppler measurements in WGS 84 is a good example
of the practical realization of a reference system. It should be pointed out
once again that errors can propagate in the procedures used to realize
reference frames."

Regards: Janne.


Landon Blake [lblake at ksninc.com] kirjoitti: 
> I am also a surveyor, but not a geodesist. I would add a couple of very
> brief comments to complement what Richard said:
> Richard wrote: "WGS84 and ITRF are not fixed to a plate,  they are
> geocentric and fixed to the center of the earth."
> I believe when we say "center of the earth" we mean the Earth's center
> of mass. This could be very different from the center of an ellipsoid
> used to model the earth, and different still from the location pointed
> to by a plumb line at the earth's surface. I believe the correction
> between the center of the ellipsoid and the plumb line even has a name,
> which is the laplace correction.
> It is also important to note that the center of the earth's mass changes
> over time. I believe it is most commonly determined by measurement in
> the changes of the orbit of satellites around the earth. Something
> called the "precession of the nodes" is popping in to my mind.
> I would also point out that the WGS84 datum is maintained by the
> Department of Defense, and I don't know that they exactly publish all
> the details of that maintenance. For example, I have yet to meet someone
> that could tell me if/how WGS84 is defined on the ground. You can't go
> out and survey a monument with published WGS84 coordinates like you can
> monuments with NAD83 coordinates. But I wonder if there are such
> monuments used by the military as part of the "ground control component"
> of WGS84.
> Richard wrote: "NAD83 is fixed to the North American plate."
> This can get complicated to. You have to factor in issues of local and
> regional movement. For example, where I live, regional subsidence can be
> a real problem. But I'm in California, and in California you start
> dealing with all types of ground movement, like that along the North
> American and Pacific plate boundary.
> One important thing to remember is that in most cases, people are
> worried not about absolute coordinates, but the spatial relationship
> between "things" on the Earth's surface. That's why plate tectonics
> usually isn't an issue in boundary surveys. :]
> Landon
> Office Phone Number: (209) 946-0268
> Cell Phone Number: (209) 992-0658
> -----Original Message-----
> From: proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org
> [mailto:proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org] On Behalf Of Richard Greenwood
> Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 5:33 AM
> To: PROJ.4 and general Projections Discussions
> Subject: Re: [Proj] Google Earth Accuracy
> On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 3:08 AM, Mikael Rittri
> <Mikael.Rittri at carmenta.com> wrote:
> > Andrew,
> > I may have misunderstood you. And maybe the Starfire differential
> service
> > really does give you WGS84 coordinates, rather than some
> ground-attached
> > variant like ETRS89 or NAD83.
> >
> >> The variation between WGS84 and ITRF of the day varies because of
> >> plate tectonics. That is WGS 84 framework was set at a time in
> history,
> >> but ITRF if calculated daily. The variable is the plate movements
> between
> >> them.
> >
> > I still think you are wrong here. Let me quote:
> >        "WGS84 is maintained by the US. Like the ITRS it is a global
> system.
> >         Initially it was coincident with ITRS to an accuracy of about
> 1.5 meters.
> >         It is currently maintained within 10cm of the ITRS."
> >         http://www.ogp.org.uk/pubs/373-10.pdf (section 2)
> > If the differences were caused by tectonic plate movements, then it
> > would be quite difficult to maintain the two systems to within 10cm.
> > You would need to connect all continents by very strong steel chains,
> to
> > prevent them drifting apart more than 10cm from their original
> position ;-)
> >
> > No, if the difference between WGS84 and ITRF varies from day to day, I
> > think that such differences are caused by something like athmospheric
> > conditions, not tectonic plate movements. (Radio waves slow down in
> the
> > athmosphere, by an amount depending on air pressure and humidity, I
> think.)
> >
> >> I'm not expert all I know is that we have to write some pretty
> special
> >> code to account for this variation so that when we use this GPS for
> >> locating with WGS84 coordinates we can find them.
> >
> > All right. If your special code is something like a time-dependent
> > 7-parameter datum transform (like those given in section 6.5 of
> >
> http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/gps/information/coordinatesyst
> emsinfo/guidecontents/guide6.html ),
> > then you are indeed correcting for tectonic plate movements. But I
> would
> > say that if so, then it is not the difference between WGS84 and ITRS
> > that you are correcting for.  Rather, your original coordinates must
> > be expressed in something like ETRS89 or NAD83, not WGS84 in its
> > strict sense.
> > On the other hand, if your special code is something else,
> > then I don't know what it does...
> >
> > Disclaimer: I am a GIS programmer, not a surveyor.
> > Maybe some surveyor on this list can give a better answer.
> >
> > Best regards,
> > --
> > Mikael Rittri
> I am a surveyor, but not a geodesic. My understanding is the same as
> Mikael's: WGS84 and ITRF are very nearly the same. I don't know why
> they are not identical, Mikael says
>     "Radio waves slow down in the athmosphere, by an amount depending
>      on air pressure and humidity, I think."
> It is generally electromagnetic disturbances much higher in our
> atmosphere that distort GPS radio waves. The disturbances are in the
> ionosphere and are effected by sun spot activity and solar flares,
> among other things. Maybe this is the reason for the difference
> between WGS84 and ITRF, but I am not sure.
> WGS84 and ITRF are not fixed to a plate,  they are geocentric and
> fixed to the center of the earth. NAD83 is fixed to the North American
> plate. Many software, including Proj, do not distinguish between NAD83
> and WGS84 so it is a common mistake to refer to the two datums
> interchangeably. And since they did start out as matching, it did not
> used to matter much. Right now there is over a meter of difference
> between WGS84 and NAD83, so it is becoming more important for all of
> us to understand and respect the difference between geocentric datums
> (ITRF and WGS84) and plate-based datums.
> -- 
> Richard Greenwood
> richard.greenwood at gmail.com
> www.greenwoodmap.com
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