The Planet Earth

The planet Earth is the third planet in the solar system located at a mean distance of about 1.50 x 108 km from the sun, with a mass of 5.97 x 1024 kg. Descriptions of the shape of the earth have evolved from the flat-earth model, spherical model to the currently accepted ellipsoidal model derived from accurate ground surveying and satellite measurements. A number of reference ellipsoids have been defined for use in identifying the three dimensional coordinates (i.e. position in space) of a point on or above the earth surface for the purpose of surveying, mapping and navigation. The reference ellipsoid in the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS-84) commonly used in satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) has the following parameters:

  • Equatorial Radius = 6378.1370 km
  • Polar Radius = 6356.7523 km

The earth's crust is the outermost layer of the earth's land surface. About 29.1% of the earth's crust area is above sea level. The rest is covered by water. A layer of gaseous atmosphere envelopes the earth's surface.

Vision The Earth's Atmosphere
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Please send comments/enquiries/suggestions about this tutorial to Dr. S. C. Liew at Copyright CRISP, 2001