Geodetic Significance of a Minimum Satellite Vehicle

  • I. M. Levitt


The establishment of an unmanned, uninstrumented, non-returnable satellite vehicle circling the Earth will enable geodesists to:
  1. (1)

    determine large distances across the surface of the Earth, especially over bodies of water, which are difficult to measure. This would furnish the basic tool for large scale triangulation;

  2. (2)

    determine the gravitational constant “g”. This would be an average g for the entire Earth;

  3. (3)

    determine the oblateness of the Earth.


This vehicle, which might better be called a beacon would circle the Earth at an altitude of 200 miles and reflect sunlight to the Earth. To an observer on the Earth it would appear brighter than a first magnitude star. Photography of the moving beacon would furnish the necessary data to compute an orbit and then use the orbit to determine the above characteristics.


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  1. 1.
    L. Spitzer Jr., Perturbations of a Satellite Orbit. J. Brit. Interplan. Soc. 9, 131 (1950).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1955

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. M. Levitt
    • 1
  1. 1.The Fels Planetarium of The Franklin InstitutePhiladelphiaUSA

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