Elected in 1979
“Pioneering in geoid studies for application to defense and space programs in connection with development of a unified world geodetic system.”
BY BERNARD CHOVITZ AND MICHAEL M. J. FISCHER
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
IRENE KAMINKA FISCHER, the grande dame of 20th-century geodesy, died on October 22, 2009, at the age of 102. During her 25 years at the U.S. Army Map Service and its successor agencies, spanning the period 1952 to 1977, she established an unmatched scientific record. Among the notable achievements that she participated in or was wholly responsible for were the revision of the International Ellipsoid in 1956, the refining of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reference ellipsoid for satellite tracking, the transfer of astrogeodetic deflections of the vertical into geoid contours, the construction of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 1960 World Geodetic System (a.k.a. the Fischer Ellipsoid or Mercury Datum of 1960, modified in 1968), the creation of the South American 1969 Datum, the reconciliation of oceanographic leveling with geodetic leveling, and the construction of oceanic calibration zones for satellite altimetry. (A more complete summary of her work can be found in a centennial tribute to her appearing in Survey Review, July 2007).