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A Wide Variety Of People Depend On The GPS

The Global Positioning System or GPS is relied upon by an increasing number of civilian users these days. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of 24 satellites placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense. The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978. GPS was originally intended for military applications, but in the 1980s, the government made the system available for civilian use. GPS works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. There are no subscription fees or setup charges to use GPS.

GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day in a very precise orbit and transmit signal information to earth. GPS receivers take this information and use triangulation to calculate the user's exact location. Essentially, the GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received. The time difference tells the GPS receiver how far away the satellite is. Now, with distance measurements from a few more satellites, the receiver can determine the user's position and display it on the unit's electronic map.

A GPS receiver must be locked on to the signal of at least three satellites to calculate a 2D position (latitude and longitude) and track movement. With four or more satellites in view, the receiver can determine the user's 3D position (latitude, longitude and altitude). Once the user's position has been determined, the GPS unit can calculate other information, such as speed, bearing, track, trip distance, distance to destination, sunrise and sunset time and more.

Generally, GPS provides a number of benefits to three key segments: space, control and user. In the space segment, The GPS system is depended upon for space-based communication between space vehicles using radio signals. Tracking devices around the globe use the GPS system's satellites to keep track of and control various military and civilian operations. In the user segment, GPS-based systems help users navigate to their destinations thereby greatly reducing the time taken to get there.

There are in fact many uses for GPS. One of the main functions is that GPS can be used to navigate in three dimensions. Navigation receivers are made for ships, airplanes, ground vehicles as well as hand held devices used by individuals. In addition, special-purpose GPS receivers are used in astronomy, telecommunications and laboratories. The satellite-based GPS supports research projects looking into atmospheric issues.

The GPS system can be used in two basic modes: Precise Positioning System and Standard Positioning Services. The former is used by the U.S. military and some government agencies which have a horizontal accuracy of 22 meters, vertical accuracy of 27.7 meters as well as 200 nanosecond time accuracy. The Standard Positioning Services is meant for civilian use. No charges are levied for the Standard Positioning Services.

The GPS Navigation Message consists of time-tagged data bits that mark the time of transmission of each sub-frame at the time they are transmitted across by space vehicles. Most commonly found errors that occur are often due to noise, bias and blunders.

GPS receivers can be purchased from various suppliers and at different prices. Features and functions generally affect the prices of most GPS models. For example, small receivers cost only just US$200 and may even be capable of accepting disparity corrections. GPS receivers that have unique features and functions can cost thousands.

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