Geodesy and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)

lphys2260  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Geodesy and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
30.0 h

This biannual learning unit is being organized in 2019-2020

Basic training in physics and mathematics (level of bachelor in sciences or applied sciences). Having followed LPHYS2161 is an asset.
Main themes

The topics/themes covered in the teaching unit are space geodesy for the Earth and planets with a particular focus on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and their applications in geophysics.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :



a.     Contribution of the teaching unit to the learning outcomes of the programme (PHYS2M and PHYS2M1)


AA1: A1.1, A1.2, A1.3, A1.4, A1.5, A1.6

AA2: A2.1, A2.2

AA3: A3.1, A3.2, A3.4

AA6: A6.1

AA7: A7.3

AA8: A8.1, A8.2


b.    Specific learning outcomes of the teaching unit


At the end of this teaching unit, the student will be able to :


1.     explain space geodesy techniques used on Earth ;

2.     properly apply spatial geodesy methods to retrieve terrestrial geophysical information ;

3.     define terrestrial and celestial reference systems and passages from one to the other ;

4.     explain the geophysical phenomena that disturb the rotation and orientation of the Earth ;

5.     explain spatial geodesic techniques used around planets and moons of the solar system ;

6.     properly apply spatial geodesy methods to retrieve the geophysical information that can be obtained for the planets and moons of the solar system on their current, past and future states and their evolutions ;

7.     access the databases of space geodesy ;

8.     use multidisciplinary approaches to solve a spatial geodesy problem or a fundamental question such as the habitability of the planets and moons of the solar system or exoplanets.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
  1. Classical and spatial geodesy
  2. GPS system
  3. European Galileo System and other satellite navigation systems
  4. GPS / GNSS applications in Earth sciences
  5. Celestial reference systems and frames
  6. Terrestrial reference systems and frames
  7. Rotation of the Earth
  8. Space geodesy techniques other than GNSS
  9. Space geodesy around other planets of the solar system
  10. Motion of an artificial satellite around a planet and geophysical information

Teaching methods
Lectures and exercises, with a visit of a geodesic site and of the Royal Observatory of Belgium
Evaluation methods
Individual oral exam with two presentations of questions to choose from the course.
Individual work on GNSS data.
Other information


Teaching materials
  • Syllabus préparé pour l’unité d’enseignement / Syllabus prepared for the teaching unit.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [60] in Physics

Master [120] in Geography : Climatology

Master [120] in Physics