GPS Navigation Revolution
There are six orbital planes equally spaced (60 degrees apart), and
inclined at about fifty-five degrees with respect to the equatorial
plane. This constellation provides the user with between five and
eight satellites visible from any point on the earth.
Hand-held GPS Receiver
GPS is funded by and controlled by the U. S. Department of Defense
(DOD). While there are many thousands of civilian users of GPS world-wide, the
system was designed for- and is operated by the U. S. Military. GPS works in any
weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. There are no
subscription fees or setup charges to use GPS.
The GPS Satellite System
The 24 satellites that make up the GPS space
segment are orbiting the earth about 12,000 miles
above us. They are constantly moving, making two
complete orbits in less than 24 hours. These
satellites are travelling at speeds of roughly 7,000
miles an hour.
GPS satellites are powered by solar energy. They
have backup batteries on board to keep them
running in the event of a solar eclipse, when there's
no solar power. Small rocket boosters on each
satellite keep them flying in the correct path.
Here are some other interesting facts about the GPS
satellites (also called NAVSTAR, the official U.S.
Department of Defense name for GPS):
* The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978.
* A full constellation of 24 satellites was achieved in
* Each satellite is built to last about 10 years.
Replacements are constantly being built and
launched into orbit.
* A GPS satellite weighs approximately 2,000 pounds
and is about 17 feet across with the solar panels
* Transmitter power is only 50 watts or less.
All about GPS!
The satellites orbit the same ground track (as the earth turns
beneath them) once each day. The orbit altitude is such that the
satellites repeat the same track and configuration over any point
approximately each 24 hours (4 minutes earlier each day).
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a worldwide
radio-navigation system formed from a constellation of 24
satellites and ground stations. GPS receivers are becoming
very economical, and are now available to consumers as
hand held devices in vehicles, and PCs. The Global
Positioning System uses these satellites as reference
points to calculate positions accurate to a matter of meters.
In fact, with the latest forms of GPS, locations can be
determined to within a centimeter of accuracy.
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Four GPS satellite signals are used to compute
positions in three dimensions and the time
offset in the receiver clock. The GPS
Operational Constellation consists of 24
satellites that orbit the earth in 12 hours.
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