What is GPS
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of at least 24 satellites. GPS works in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, with no subscription fees or setup charges.
How GPS works
GPS satellites circle the Earth twice a day in a precise orbit. Each satellite transmits a unique signal and orbital parameters that allow GPS devices to decode and compute the precise location of the satellite. GPS receivers use this information and trilateration to calculate a user’s exact location. Essentially, the GPS receiver measures the distance to each satellite by the amount of time it takes to receive a transmitted signal. With distance measurements from a few more satellites, the receiver can determine a user’s position and display it.
To calculate your 2-D position (latitude and longitude) and track movement, a GPS receiver must be locked on to the signal of at least 3 satellites. With 4 or more satellites in view, the receiver can determine your 3-D position (latitude, longitude and altitude). Generally, a GPS receiver will track 8 or more satellites, but that depends on the time of day and where you are on the earth.
Once your position has been determined, the GPS unit can calculate other information, such as:
What’s the signal?
GPS satellites transmit at least 2 low-power radio signals. The signals travel by line of sight, meaning they will pass through clouds, glass and plastic but will not go through most solid objects, such as buildings and mountains. However, modern receivers are more sensitive and can usually track through houses.
A GPS signal contains 3 different types of information:
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