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Return to The Elements of Geodesy: Datums

One way to think about a datum is as a set of spatial information that acts as a foundation for other data, just like concrete acts as a foundation for the structure of a building, including all the furnishings and decorations inside.Without a datum there would be nothing to securely support other spatial information, such as digital elevations, land use, or population. There are two types of datums, horizontal and vertical, that make up the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS). Click on the arrow on the bottom right corner of the drawing to see a representation of how geodesists help others construct spatial information into a map, like designing or decorating the interior of a building, by providing a solid foundation. To view this animation you may need to download the Macromedia Flash Player or you can view the Printable version.



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