May 1, 2006
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NGS publishes State Plane Coordinates in feet; Iowa society goes online; First Galileo satellite transmits signals; and Russia and India go forward with GLONASS.

NGS Publishes State Plane Coordinates in Feet

As of Feb. 22, 2006, NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS) began publishing State Plane Coordinates (SPCs) in feet on both the conventional NGS geodetic control data sheet and the OPUS extended output data sheet. This was done in accordance with the NGS goal to provide products and services that are of the most use to the public. Also, it is intended to reduce the problems often caused by data users converting metric values with inappropriate conversion values.

NGS publishes both meters and either International or U.S. Survey feet; the values in feet have the appropriate metadata identified as either "iFT" for International Feet or "sFT" for U.S. Survey Feet. The relationships are defined as 1 m = 3.280833333 sFT, or 1 m = 3.280839895 iFT. While the difference between these conversions amounts to only about 1 part in 500,000 and has no practical impact on local survey measurements, when applied to large numbers such as SPCs expressed in millions of meters, the differences can easily be in the range of 15-20 feet.

NGS now provides feet in addition to meters for the 33 states with NAD 83 legislation that specifically defines the conversion to either U.S. Survey or International Feet. These include: Arizona (iFT), Arkansas (sFT), California (sFT), Colorado (sFT), Connecticut (sFT), Delaware (sFT), Florida (sFT), Georgia (sFT), Illinois (sFT), Indiana (sFT), Kentucky (sFT), Louisiana (sFT), Maryland (sFT), Massachusetts (sFT), Michigan (iFT), Mississippi (sFT), Montana (iFT), New Hampshire (sFT), New Mexico (sFT), New York (sFT), North Carolina (sFT), North Dakota (iFT), Oklahoma (sFT), Oregon (iFT), Pennsylvania (sFT), Rhode Island (sFT), South Carolina (iFT), South Dakota (sFT), Tennessee (sFT), Texas (sFT), Virginia (sFT), Washington (sFT) and Wisconsin (sFT).

For states with NAD 83 legislation that does not define a conversion to either U.S. Survey or International Feet, NGS will publish the data coordinates in feet if the following conditions are met:
  1. An interested person, government agency or professional organization in the state/territory makes a request to the NGS director to publish a specific foot. (This can be done by E-mailing or calling 301/713-3222.)
  2. The NGS director assigns a technical coordinator to assist the requestor and to ensure appropriate state or territorial surveying, mapping and GIS agencies and organizations are contacted and are in consensus with the data request. These may include but are not limited to:
    1. land surveying professional association
    2. transportation department
    3. office of geographic information
    4. GIS professional association or consortium
  3. An official written request is made to the NGS director and signed by senior representatives of the requesting agencies and organizations as approved by the technical coordinator.
  4. The technical coordinator drafts and publishes a Federal Register Notice (FRN) outlining the state or territory's intent to publish SPCs in a specific foot. If no irresolvable comments are received within 30 days after the FRN publication, the technical coordinator will work with various NGS divisions (responsible for SPC publication) to ensure the conversion is implemented into appropriate NSRS products, services and tools.
NGS will publish only in meters for states that do not have NAD 83 legislation; currently, this includes only Alabama and Hawaii.

Iowa Society Goes Online

The Society of Land Surveyors of Iowa (SLSI) launched a new website at This launch aids the society in fulfilling one of the purposes of its mission statement, which is to provide a central reference source for land surveyors. The site offers links to a wealth of resources, particularly county and state government links that will assist Iowa surveyors in their work. The content also includes lists of the current board of directors, events, committees and SLSI-sponsored continuing education. SLSI intends to grow the site to make it a valuable resource for those who survey in Iowa and for those considering surveying as a future career.

First Galileo Satellite Transmits Signals

The first Galileo satellite launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in December 2005, known as GIOVE-A for Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element, began transmitting navigation signals on Jan. 12, 2006. This satellite's signals are currently undergoing testing for quality to ensure the proposed GNSS will function properly. The testing and quality checking is being performed at facilities in the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom. This test phase also provides an opportunity to test the first Galileo Experimental Test Receivers (GETR) manufactured by Septentrio of Leuven, Belgium.

The GIOVE-A mission is to secure the frequencies allocated to the Galileo system by the International Telecommunications Union. Because of the success in collecting data from GIOVE-A for this purpose, the launch of the second Galileo satellite, GIOVE-B, has been postponed from this spring until the fall.

Russia and India Go Forward with GLONASS

Russian and Indian officials solidified their cooperation for future GLONASS development on March 17, 2006, in New Delhi. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) signed two accords on GLONASS that call for Russia's GLONASS satellites to be launched using Indian Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV) and for joint development of future GLONASS-K satellites.

Managing Editor Kimberly Jensen compiles "Newsline." If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact her at 248/244-6465 or E-mail Also visit for regular news updates.

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