Geodesy and global navigation systems

Last updated:7 June 2023

Geodesy is a dynamic application of scientific methods in support of many professional, economic and scientific activities and functions ranging from:

  • land titling
  • mineral exploration
  • navigation
  • mapping
  • surveying
  • remote sensing data for resource management
  • construction of dams and drains
  • interpreting seismic disturbances.

Geoscience Australia is the national focal point for coordination of geodetic information and data and is working with state agencies, the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) and industry groups towards the provision of the best possible data.

Geoscience Australia monitors the horizontal and vertical motion of the Australian landmass and contributes data to the global scientific effort to monitor the Earth's changing shape and motion. This data provides a uniform, accurate basis for all spatial data in Australia and its offshore territories.

Geoscience Australia operates satellite laser ranging stations at Mt Stromlo in the Australian Capital Territory and Yarragadee in Western Australia. Ranked among the best in the world, these stations measure precise distances to satellites by timing the reflected flight of laser beam pulses. These precise measurements allow Geoscience Australia to calculate precise orbits for artificial satellites to monitor the Earth's gravity field and measure the oscillation of the Earth about its axis.

Geoscience Australia offers geodetic products and services for a range of commercial and private use. One of the most popular services is the online astronomical information, such as the Sun and Moon rising and setting times and the Sun and Moon Azimuth and Elevation application.