Since it was founded in 1868 as the Bavarian Commission for European Grade Measurement, geodesy under the umbrella of the Academy has played a prominent role in the development of the European triangulation, the European height reference system and the first European satellite triangulation1. With the start of the satellite era, it became possible to monitor the Earth as a whole in space and time. Within the scope of the Special Research Programme 78 of the DFG (1970-1984), the Commission participated in the development of methods for determining the shape of the Earth. Since then, the “Satellite Geodesy” project at the Academy - as part of a European initiative - has been working on the GPS recording of geotectonic movements, with a focus on those in the Mediterranean and Alpine regions and in Iceland. The realisation of a geodetic reference system continues to be one of the core tasks of the working group. The results of the GPS analysis are directly incorporated into the current realisation of the ETRS89 (European Terrestrial Reference System 1989). This three-dimensional reference system is the official basis of all coordinate systems in Europe today and is also used by the national surveys of the respective countries.
The second focus of the work was the Earth's gravity field. Under the leadership of the Commission, the Unified European Gravimetric Network (UEGN) was created within the framework of international cooperation. Today, it forms the basis of gravimetric networks in Europe and has been calculated on the basis of the latest standards and conventions. Furthermore, gravimetric methods for quantifying mass distribution and mass changes were developed. The development of the prototype of a flight gravimeter deserves special mention. Only using flight gravimetry can gravity field information be obtained in a short period of time, even in inaccessible terrain. However, the gravity measurement in the aircraft is extremely difficult due to the dynamics of aircraft movement. The developed prototype is based on a Strapdown Inertial Measuring Unit and can be used in small aircrafts.
1 Cornelia Meyer-Stoll, Naturwissenschaftliche Forschung im Spannungsfeld von Internationalisierung und Mittelknappheit - Die Gründungsgeschichte der Kommission für die europäische Gradmessung bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1861–1868, Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte 71, 2011, 219 - 267.