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Project MERIT and the Formation of the International Earth Rotation Service

  • G.A. Wilkins (a1)

Abstract

Project MERIT was an international programme to Monitor Earth Rotation and Intercompare the Techniques of observation and analysis. It was conceived by a working group that was set up by the International Astronomical Union in 1978 and was carried through with additional support from the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. The first objective was to encourage the development of the use of new techniques, such as laser ranging and radio interferometry, for the regular determination of universal time and polar motion. A successful ‘short campaign’ of observations by six techniques was carried out during the period 1980 August to October. Operational and analysis centres were set up for each technique and a coordinating centre was established at the Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH). The results were reported and discussed at the first MERIT Workshop in 1981.

The preparations for the ‘main campaign’, which was held from 1983 September 1 to 1984 October 31, and the plans for the activities that were to follow it were reviewed at the second MERIT Workshop in 1983. Important additional features of the campaign included the use of ‘MERIT Standards’ for the reduction and analysis of the data, the use of electronic techniques for the distribution of data, the comparison of the results with the changes in the angular momentum of the atmosphere and special emphasis on the improvement of the terrestrial reference frame. Proposals for a new International Earth Rotation Service were prepared at the third MERIT Workshop in 1986. The MERIT programme was continued from 1984 until the new service formally started on 1988 January 1. Over the decade the accuracy of the Earth-rotation parameters improved considerably.

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References

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Babcock, A.K. & Wilkins, G.A. (eds) 1988, The Earth’s rotation and reference systems for geodesy and geodynamics, Proc. IAU Symp. 128, Coolfont, 1986, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1988.
Boucher, C., Feissel, M., & Wilkins, G.A. 1987, The MERIT/COTES database on the rotation of the Earth and terrestrial refernce system, in Glaiser, P.S. (ed.), Computer handling and dissemination of data, 304307, Elsevier.
Calarne, O. (ed.) 1982, High-precision Earth-rotation and Earth-Moon dynamics, Proc. IAU Coll. 63, Grasse, 1981, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1982.
Feissel, M. (ed.) 1986, Observational results on Earth rotation and reference systems, Reports on the MERIT-COTES Campaign, Part III, BIH, Paris Observatory.
Mueller, I.I. (ed.) 1986, Proceedings of the International Conference on Earth rotation and the terrestrial reference frame, Columbus, Ohio, 1985, Reports on the MERIT-COTES Campaign, Part II, Ohio State University.
Wilkins, G.A. (ed.) 1980, A review of the techniques to be used in Project MERIT to monitor the rotation of the Earth, Herstmonceux: Royal Greenwich Observatory, & Frankfurt: Institut fur Angewandte Geodasie.
Wilkins, G.A. (ed.) 1984, Report on the Second MERIT Workshop and on other activities in 1983, Herstmonceux: Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Wilkins, G.A. 1988, Review of the achievements of Project MERIT for the intercomparison of techniques for monitoring the rotation of the Earth, in Babcock, A.K., & Wilkins, G.A. (eds) 1988, The Earth’s rotation and reference systems for geodesy and geodynamics. Proc. IAU Symp. 128, Coolfont, 1986, 227232, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1988.
Wilkins, G.A., & Feissel, M. (eds) 1982, Project MERIT: report on the Short Campaign and Grasse Workshop with results on Earth-rotation during 1980 August-October, Herstmonceux: Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Wilkins, G.A., & Mueller, I.I. 1986, Joint summary report of the IAU/IUGG Working Groups on the rotation of the Earth and the terrestrial reference system, in Swings, J.-P. (ed.) 1986, Highlights of Astronomy 7, 771788. (See also: Bull. Géodésique 60, 85100; EOS 67, 601+604-605; Advances in Space Research 6, 5-11.)

Project MERIT and the Formation of the International Earth Rotation Service

  • G.A. Wilkins (a1)

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