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GPS Review: An Introduction And Key Features

A GPS review is warranted due to the increasing use of this technology and applications to further human endeavors. By now, almost everyone has heard about the Global Positioning System or GPS. It is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense. GPS was first meant for military use but later in the 1980s, the government made this technology available for civilian use. Although GPS as a term is commonly known by many people; few people know how it really works. Hopefully this GPS review will provide some insights and give some people the opportunity to exploit this technology to improve their lives, get their work done better and smarter or help them enjoy their hobbies.

The GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day, in a very precise orbit and transmit signal information to earth. In order for the GPS to work, there is a network of more than 50 satellites that covers the globe.

To calculate a 2 dimensional position and monitor movement, a GPS receiver must be able to receive the signals from at least three satellites. However, with more than four satellites, the receiver can determine the user's 3 dimensional positions which are: latitude, longitude and altitude.

Once the GPS satellites receive the signal, they will compare the time to send to their own atomic clock and estimate how much time was taken to receive the signal. Along with their positions with the different timings, they are able to determine the location where the signal originated from. Thus, they can then transmit the information to the sending unit. Now you can see a simplified version of the GPS review.

Based on the GPS review stated above, you will realize that the precision of the time piece in the sending until has an impact on the accuracy of the positioning information. However, errors in the clock are not the greatest source of error. You will find out more later in this GPS review on the different source of errors.

Sources of GPS errors that can affect accuracy are atmospheric like Ionosphere and troposphere delays. The satellite signal will either slow down or speed up as it passes through the atmosphere, thus affecting the time calculations. Fortunately, the GPS system has a built-in model that calculates the average amount of delay to partially rectify this type of problem. In addition, inaccuracies will also occur if GPS receivers do not get a clear view of the sky which will cause distortions.

Another problem that causes inaccuracies is satellite geometry/shading which refers to the relative position of the satellites at any given time. When the satellites are located at wide angles relative to each other, you can obtain ideal satellite geometry. However, if the satellites are located in a line or in a tight-grouping, poor geometry occurs.

To conclude, this is just a simple general GPS review to let you know how the GPS system works.

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