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Flattening </dt>
Of the earth, the ratio of the difference between the equatorial radius (major semiaxis) and the polar radius (minor semiaxis) of the earth to the equatorial radius. Also called compression. See astronomical constants. </dd>
The flattening of the earth is the ellipticity of the spheroid and equals the ellipticity of the ellipse forming a meridional section the spheroid. If a and b represent the major and minor semiaxes of the spheroid, and f is the flattening of the earth,

f = (a - b) / a
The magnitude of the flattening is sometimes

expressed by stating the numerical value of the reciprocal of the flattening, a/(a - b). </dd>


This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use