Did you know that the beginning of the Global Positioning System, now used throughout modern society, was created in 1961-1963, in Great Falls?
Members of the public are invited to a dedication ceremony for a new historical marker at Observatory Park at The Turner Farm on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Local and state officials, community members and former employees of the U.S. Army Map Service and Defense Mapping Agency will be in attendance. The event is sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Analemma Society. Although the marker will be located on the west side of Springvale Road, south of Georgetown Pike, the ceremony will take place near the observatory.
The marker honors the work of the U.S. Army Map Service and its contribution to the Global Positioning System, better known as GPS, that is now used worldwide for navigation. Observatory Park at The Turner Farm, also a former Nike missile site, served as a support facility for geo-location and navigation beginning in 1961, establishing precise geographical reference points on the Earth’s surface. In 1963, the U.S. Army Map Service initiated a significant satellite tracking program that became part of the Defense Mapping Agency in 1972.
In the words on the marker, “The satellite tracking system contributed fundamentally to the Global Positioning System or GPS. Until 1993, the data gathered at this facility also enabled geospatial scientists to further refine both their estimates of the Earth’s true shape and variations in its gravity field.”
A dedication will be held at 10 a.m. at the park, with remarks from historians and local and state officials.
Turner Farm is located at 925 Springvale Road, Great Falls, VA. For more information about the ceremony, please contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662 or via Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.