Basic Introduction about GPS:
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of 24 Navstar satellites orbiting Earth at 11,000 miles. Originally established by the U.S. Department of Defence (DOD) at a cost of about US$13 billion, access to GPS is free to all users, including those in other countries. The system’s positioning and timing data are used for a variety of applications, including air, land and sea navigation, vehicle and vessel tracking, surveying and mapping, and asset and natural resource management. With military accuracy restrictions partially lifted in March 1996 and fully lifted in May 2000, GPS can now pinpoint the location of objects as small as a penny anywhere on the earth’s surface.
The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978. The first 10 satellites were development satellites, called Block I. From 1989 to 1993, 23 production satellites, called Block II were launched. The launch of the 24th satellite in 1994 completed the system. The DOD keeps 4 satellites in reserve to replace any destroyed or defective satellites. The satellites are positioned so that signals from six of them can be received nearly 100 percent of the time at any point on earth.
GPS provides specially coded satellite signals that can be processed in a GPS receiver, enabling the receiver to compute position, velocity and time. Basically GPS works by using four GPS satellite signals to compute positions in three dimensions (and the time offset) in the receiver clock. So by very accurately measuring our distance from these satellites a user can triangulate their position anywhere on earth.
GPS receivers have been miniaturised 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. This report shows the various features of GPS and the reasons why it may soon become almost as basic as the telephone.
GPS consists of three parts: the space segment, the control segment, and the user segment. The U.S. Air Force develops, maintains, and operates the space and control segments. GPS satellites broadcast signals from space, which each GPS receiver uses to calculate its three-dimensional location (latitude, longitude, and altitude) plus the current time.
The space segment is composed of 24 to 32 satellites in medium Earth orbit and also includes the boosters required to launch them into orbit. The control segment is composed of a master control station, an alternate master control station, and a host of dedicated and shared ground antennas and monitor stations. The user segment is composed of hundreds of thousands of U.S. and allied military users of the secure GPS Precise Positioning Service, and tens of millions of civil, commercial, and scientific users of the Standard Positioning Service (see GPS navigation devices).