Can you imagine getting lost while traveling one hundred years ago? You’d have to have a map on you and how to navigate by the sun or stars, so most of us would struggle without some help. But if you are lost today, all you have to do is pull out your mobile phone, and as long as you have service, you can easily find out exactly where you are.
Thanks to technological advancements, everything from cars and airplanes to our phones and more have navigation systems that can identify where we are and get us to where we need to be. Our GPS can navigate where we want to go for us.
But have you ever stopped to wonder how your GPS works? Read on to understand the basics of navigation systems.
What Is GPS?
GPS stands for Global Positioning System, and it is a satellite navigation system owned by the US Government and operated by the US military. GPS provides real-time 3D mapping that pinpoints your location within meters and can determine time.
How Does GPS Work?
GPS has three segments: the space segment, the control segment, and the user segment.
The space segment is comprised of over 30 satellites in Earth’s orbit connected to the control network and equipped with atomic clocks. These satellites send coded data back to Earth, giving their position and time.
The control segment includes monitoring stations that track and adjust the satellites’ orbits and clocks. They ensure that the satellites are adequately maintained and upload their data.
The user segment includes GPS receivers that receive the signals from the satellites. Receivers calculate position based on how long it took to receive the signal from an individual satellite.
GPS usually requires a receiver to connect with four satellites to calculate location using triangulation math. Obstacles and climate conditions can affect your receiver’s ability to pick up signals from satellites making it more difficult to determine your location.
GPS System Uses and GPS Equipment
GPS is most well known for its use in the transportation industry. GPS is integrated into many cars today to help people navigate to their destination and as a way to ward off thieves. GPS tracks the position and speed of all kinds of vehicles, including airplanes and ships.
But GPS isn’t just used in transportation. The agriculture, communication, emergency services, construction, energy, and mining industries use GPS. These industries rely on precise time and location data that GPS provides to improve their production and efficiency.
GPS is very accurate, but high-tech commercial equipment can locate objects even more precisely. For example, some high-tech companies might integrate inertial simulators into their tracking to model new technologies for navigation systems for industries like aviation.
Other Navigation Systems
Although we associate the acronym GPS with navigation systems in the US, GPS isn’t the only navigation system. GPS is part of the larger Global Navigation Satellite System which provides coverage worldwide. For example, Galileo is a global navigation system developed and used in the European Union.
Each navigation system is typically run by the country or region they serve. The systems all work similarly but might have different coverage and precision.
Getting Around Made Easy
GPS satellites provide users with positional data, time, direction, and other helpful data. Our navigation systems are essential for many industries to operate and make our everyday lives easier. Understanding how navigation systems work can help you integrate them to improve efficiency.
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