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Where in the world are we?

Imaginary lines around planet Earth are called latitude and longitude and help us locate positions on the Earth's surface. 

Planet Earth is like a round ball.

  • At the top of the ball is the north geographic pole and the bottom has the south geographic pole.
  • Around the middle of the ball is an imaginary line called the equator

To make it easier to describe one location on the surface of the earth, imaginary lines are drawn called latitude and longitude.

Lines of Latitude

Latitude lines go around the earth parallel to the equator.

The RV Tangaroa is sailing to 36°South on this voyage. 

Lines of Longitude

Longitude lines all pass through the South and North poles.

The RV Tangaroa is sailing to 177°West on this voyage. 

Every point on the Earth can be defined by its latitude and longitude ‘coordinates’. You can use this website to find the coordinates of your location on earth, right now! 

The RV Tangaroa is heading to the coordinates 177W36S. You can spot this location on this website's google map.

Satellites and GPS

Who has heard of GPS? GPS Stands for Global Positioning System and is used all over the world. 

  • GPS satellites transmit signals to GPS receivers on the ground.
  • Receivers require a clear view of the sky, so they are only used outdoors. They work well out on the open ocean.


Latitude and Longitude. Image source


The application 'Google Earth' allows us to see where objects such as Argo Floats are located, in real-time.


NASA illustration of a JASON satellite. Image source

Next step learning: find out what other common devices use GPS