GNSS receivers reach the Everest Peak

CHC Navigation announced that its P5 geodetic GNSS receiver has been used successfully by China’s National Geodetic Survey Team and its Mountaineer’s Team to complete the 2020 Mount Everest Elevation Survey.


This is the first time that a team of Chinese surveyors has climbed the summit of Mount Everest, and it is also the first time that BeiDou-based Chinese GNSS receivers have been used to measure the height of Mount Everest.

The project
In order to promote research on the Mount Everest elevation and to ensure the scientific character and accuracy of measurements, the Ministry of Natural Resources has mobilized the Shaanxi Bureau of Topography and Geographic Information Mapping (from the Chinese Academy of Topography and Mapping) to plan and implement the measurements of the Mount Everest elevation.

The plan set out the technical guidelines and required that the Everest Elevation Project be designed to achieve innovative and technological breakthroughs in several areas of research.

The first is to use the BeiDou satellite navigation system to perform GNSS measurements; the second is to use Chinese surveying and mapping equipment to complete the task.

The Challenges
In October 2019, CHCNAV received a request from the Ministry of Natural Resources to provide GNSS equipment for the 2020 Everest Elevation Project. A dedicated team combining different departments, from R&D to manufacturing was set up. The team elaborated the specific technical requirements from the National Survey engineers, in particular the difficulties and challenges related to the altitude of Everest.

Measuring the height of Mount Everest, especially the summit, is a challenge, not only for the limitation of the human body in such elevation environment, but also for the performance of the GNSS receiver itself. At over 8,800 meters, the minimum temperature can reach -45°C and the atmospheric pressure is only 30 kPa (compared to the normal 101 kPa). All the surveying equipment used, is exposed to both low temperature and low-pressure constraints. In addition, the operation of the instruments must be as simple and reliable as possible in such an extreme environment. Surveyors wear thick winter clothing and lack oxygen, making every movement an extreme challenge. Finally, the measurement of the mountain peak must be completed at the first attempt, as re-measurement is impossible.