Cartesian Coordinates

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Cartesian Coordinates

A coordinate system in which the locations of points in space are expressed by reference to three planes, called coordinate planes, no two of which are parallel. Compare curvilinear coordinates.
The three planes intersect in three straight lines, called coordinate axes. The coordinate planes and coordinate axes intersect in a common point, called the origin. From any point P in space three straight lines may be drawn, each of which is parallel to one of the three coordinate planes. If A, B, C denote these points of intersection, the Cartesian coordinates of P are the distances PA, PB, and PC. If the coordinate axes are mutually perpendicular, the coordinate system is rectangular; otherwise, oblique.


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