GEOG 862
GPS and GNSS for Geospatial Professionals



Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS)

Map showing the continuously operating reference stations (CORS) in the lower 48 US states
Source: NOAA

In about 1992, the NGS began establishing a network of Continuous Operating Reference Stations (CORS) throughout the country. The original idea was to provide positioning for navigational and marine needs. There were about 50 CORS in 1996. Their positional accuracies are 3 cm horizontal and 5 cm vertical. They also must meet NOAA geodetic standards for installation, operation, and data distribution. Today, there are thousands of Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) online. From 1998 to 2004, NGS introduced another series of observations in each state designed to tie the network to the Continuously Operating Reference Stations, CORS. This work resulted in the Federal Base Network (FBN), which is a nationwide network of monumented stations. These spatial reference positions are among the most precise available and are particularly dense in crustal motion areas. In general, these points are spaced at approximately 100 kilometers apart. The accuracies intended are: 1 cm-latitudes and longitudes, 2 cm-ellipsoidal heights, and 3 cm-orthometric heights. These stations are few compared to the much more numerous Cooperative Base Network (CBN). This is a high-accuracy network of monumented control stations spaced at 25 to 50 km apart throughout the United States and its territories. The CBN was created and is maintained by state and private organizations with the help of NGS. The Continuously Operating Reference Stations in the NGS network are mostly to provide support for carrier phase observations. Information is available for postprocessing on the Internet. The coordinates of the CORS are currently available in ITRF2014 (2010.0 and NAD83 2011 (2010.0)