What is GPS?

Dr. Majidah Hameed Majeed

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed from a constellation of 24 satellites and their ground stations.

GPS uses these "man-made stars" as reference points to calculate positions accurate to a matter of meters. In fact, with advanced forms of GPS you can make measurements to better than a centimeter!

In a sense it's like giving every square meter on the planet a unique address.

GPS receivers have been miniaturized to just a few integrated circuits and so are becoming very economical. And that makes the technology accessible to virtually everyone.

These days GPS is finding its way into cars, boats, planes, construction equipment, movie making gear, farm machinery, even laptop computers.

What are GPS Systems Used For?

 Your imagination is the only limitation to the possibilities of global positioning system (GPS) technologies. GPS systems are extremely versatile and can be found in almost any industry sector. They can be used to map forests, help farmers harvest their fields, and navigate airplanes on the ground or in the air. GPS systems are used in military applications and by emergency crews to locate people in need of assistance. GPS technologies are often working in many areas that we do not normally consider Global positioning system applications generally fall into 5 major categories:

1. Location – determining a position. 
2. Navigation – getting from one location to another. 
3. Tracking – monitoring object or personal movement. 
4. Mapping – creating maps of the world .
5. Timing – bringing precise timing to the world.

Who Uses GPS?

Some of the applications that GPS systems are currently being used for around the world include mining, aviation, surveying, agriculture, marine, recreation, and military. These days doctors, scientists, farmers, soldiers, pilots, hikers, delivery drivers, sailors, fishermen, dispatchers, athletes, and people from many other walks of life are using GPS systems in ways that make their work more productive, safer, and easier.

Why do we need GPS?

Basic GPS is the most accurate radio-based navigation system ever developed. And for many applications it's plenty accurate. But it's human nature to want MORE!

Differential GPS or "DGPS" can yield measurements good to a couple of meters in moving applications and even better in stationary situations.


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