Aircraft , ships, submarine s, train s, and the space shuttle all use GPS to navigate. Many people use receivers when driving cars. The GPS receiver plot s the car's constantly-changing location on an electronic map.
The map provides directions to the person's destination. Both the location and the vehicle are plotted using satellite data. Some hike rs use GPS to help them find their way, especially when they are not on marked trails. Sometimes there are obstacle s to getting a clear GPS signal. Gravity can pull the GPS satellites slightly out of orbit. Parts of Earth's atmosphere sometimes distort the satellite radio signals. Trees, buildings, and other structures can also block the radio waves.
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GPS control and monitoring stations around the world track the satellites and constantly monitor their signals. They then calculate corrections that are broadcast to GPS receivers. These corrections make GPS much more accurate.
Everything you need to know about the global positioning system
The original GPS system began as a project of the U. The first experimental satellite was launched in By , a full 24 GPS satellites were orbiting Earth. At first, GPS available for civilian , or nonmilitary, use was not very accurate. It would only locate a GPS receiver within about meters 1, feet. Today, an accurate signal is free and available to anyone with a GPS receiver. GPS is American. China and the European Union are currently creating systems of their own.
Tracking GPS technology is used to track animals as they migrate. Animals, from humpback whales to arctic terns to grizzly bears, are fitted with GPS receivers. These receivers let researchers know where that animal is as it moves. Biologists can track animals as they migrate to another habitat for a season, move in search of food or shelter, or are forced out of their ecosystem by human activity such as construction. First, scientists plant GPS receivers in the ground. By measuring how far these GPS receivers move, scientists can sometimes measure the strength of an earthquake in as little as 15 minutes.
Knowing the size of an earthquake is central to predicting whether it can produce dangerous ocean waves known as a tsunamis. By the time a tsunami reaches land, it can be a huge, destructive wall of water.
Early warning is crucial in saving lives because tsunami waves move faster than people can run. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.
What Are GPS Systems Used For? | NovAtel
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Global Positioning System
If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media. In this role, Parkinson was able to build upon Getting's original ideas and essentially brought those ideas to a successful conclusion as he led the "conceptualization, engineering development, and implementation" of the Global Positioning System.
Roger L. Easton also contributed to the development of GPS and has been called the "father of GPS" because of his particular contribution. According to TechCrunch , Easton's contribution was the result of solving a problem related to tracking "Earth-orbiting objects" like satellites. In an effort to synchronize the tracking stations' timing and enhance his tracking, Easton developed a "time-based" navigation system in which he "put highly accurate clocks in multiple different satellites, which would then be able to accurately determine the precise location of someone on the ground.
Department of Defense ended up incorporating a few of its features into the development of the Global Positioning System. Lastly, but certainly not least, mathematician Gladys West is also credited for her contribution to the development of GPS. As Mental Floss notes , West's contribution was her work in developing a model of the Earth that included "variations in the planet's shape caused by gravitational, tidal, and other forces.
Learn more about Global Positioning System
According to Garmin , a GPS technology company, the Global Positioning System works when GPS satellites transmit "a unique signal and orbital parameters that allow GPS devices to decode and compute the precise location of the satellite. From this transmission, GPS receiver devices are able to calculate the location of their users by measuring the "the distance to each satellite by the amount of time it takes to receive a transmitted signal" and then combining that with the distance measurements from several other satellites.
And so, in order to correctly calculate a person's "2-D position", which is just latitude and longitude, a given GPS receiver device would need to receive a signal from at least three satellites. Calculating a 3-D position, on the other hand, would also add in altitude and require the signal of at least four satellites. Usually, according to Garmin, most GPS receiver devices will receive and track the signals of at least eight satellites, but this number can vary based on your location and what time it is. Air Force. The U. Air Force essentially "develops, maintains, and operates" the 24 current satellites that make up the System and the monitor and the control stations located throughout the world that are used to take care of the satellites.
GPS isn't just for navigating your way home. There are many other everyday uses for GPS that you probably haven't ever considered. Here are a few examples:. Geocaching is a form of recreation that involves setting up treasure hunts; hiding "treasures" usually small prizes and toys in certain locations, then uploading maps online to have other people search for them with GPS devices like smartphones or more expensive GPS units.
These days parents and schools are making use of GPS via wearables and mobiles with built-in location trackers to keep track of their child's location. Now, if your child gets separated from their class during a field trip, it's a lot easier to find them. You local power company probably uses GPS to keep track of power outages and their repairs.