How gps works

How GPS works

What is it and how does gps work?

Many of us encounter gps on a daily basis, but few people know what it is and how does gps work. If you are among those who do not know what it is how gps works, then read this text and find out all about GPS. GPS is a US-owned satellite positioning system. Signals transmitted by satellites can be freely received and used by everyone.

The user, whether on land, at sea or in the air, can know their position at any time with unprecedented precision. Commercially, GPS is very successful and generates many shifts in many areas: maritime, land and air navigation, location of commercial fleets, tracking routes, assessing the relevance of itineraries, etc. Integrating gps chips into smartphones multiplies the use of gps there is  also gps in cars used today . In the scientific world, location precision and synchronization allow the development and use of new applications: Geodesy, synchronization between atomic clocks, atmospheric studies, etc. Europe, China, Russia and India have been developing competing GPS-like systems for several years.

How does gps work?

In this section we bring you information about it how gps works. The GPS constellation consists of at least 24 satellites, located at an altitude of 20,000 kilometers and orbiting the Earth. The five earth stations are responsible for managing the perfect alignment of satellites in their orbit and defining possible errors.

How gps works
How GPS works on phones (source: Pinterest)


You need three coordinates (x, y and z) to define the position in space. GPS data also includes a fourth variable, time. Therefore, four satellites equipped with atomic clocks are needed to obtain the position, as well as a GPS receiver that will decode and calculate the received signals. The precision of the best atomic clocks is counted in billions of seconds, in other words it would take 160 million years to lose one second of precision. The principle of how gps works is based on triangulation. The exceptional accuracy of atomic clocks is essential, as an error of one thousandth of a second in the calculation of transmission time would lead to a positioning error of 300 kilometers. Such a mistake is unacceptable.

How GPS works – positioning

The previous section is summarized how gps works, and in this section you will be briefly explained the positioning function with the help of gps. The terrestrial coordinates of the receiver were calculated in a geocentric Cartesian system with three axes (x, y, z) originating from the center of gravity of terrestrial masses (geodetic system). In order for these coordinates to be easy to use, they must be converted into geographical coordinates (latitude, longitude, altitude), which is a system that is very widely used in cartographic representation. It is the post-processing of the fps receiver that performs this conversion using the default settings of the WGS 84 surveying system (World Surveying System 84). This system, which is the most used in the world, is a reference that meets the goals of the global navigation system.

Altitude is not always directly usable, due to the difference between the ellipsoidal height calculated in the WGS 82 geodetic system and the geodetic altitude. This variation can reach several tens of meters locally. The obtained coordinates can be expressed in other geodetic systems, specific for example for a region or a country. For additional information on how gps works, you can always read the expert literature related to gps.

source: wikipedia


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How GPS Works Today