What Does GPS Stand For?
GPS is Everywhere
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of at least 24 satellites. It is owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Space Force.
GPS works all day, every day, in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world. Satellites were originally put into orbit for military use. The U.S. Department of Defense (USDOD) made GPS available for civilian use in the 1980s.
How GPS Works:
We all know GPS is used on our phones to give us directions back home or track the distance we run, but how exactly does it work?
GPS satellites circle our planet twice a day in a precise orbit. They each transmit a unique signal that allow GPS devices to pinpoint the precise location of the satellite. Then the GPS receivers use this information to figure out a user’s exact location.
To calculate your location and track movement, a GPS receiver must be locked on to the signal of at least 3 satellites according to a government website. Once your position has been determined, the GPS unit can determine information like miles traveled, speed, the time the sun sets, and more.
The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978 and receivers have only become more accurate since then. Right now, there are 31 satellites orbiting the earth about 12,000 miles above us. These satellites make up the GPS space segment. They are constantly moving, and travel at speeds of roughly 7,000 miles an hour.
Each satellite does have an end date. They are built to last about 10 years, and replacements are regularly being launched into orbit. Each one weighs about 2,000 pounds and are 17 feet across. GPS satellites are powered by solar energy. In the case of a solar eclipse, they have backup batteries onboard.
GPS in Our Lives:
GPS is in EVERYTHING. Cell phones, wristwatches, bulldozers, shipping containers, and ATM’s are just a few of the products that have GPS in them. The system is used in many professions including farming, construction, mining, surveying, package delivery, and logistical supply chain management. Major communications networks, banking systems, financial markets, and power grids depend on GPS for precise time synchronization. Some wireless services cannot operate without it.
Emergency services use GPS to save lives. It helps prevent and avoid traffic accidents, aids search and rescue efforts, and speeds the delivery of emergency services and disaster relief. GPS is also used in weather forecasting, earthquake monitoring, and environmental protection.
The U.S. military uses GPS in national security operations. Nearly all new military assets, such as vehicles and ammunition, come equipped with GPS.
GPS is Here to Stay:
GPS is used constantly in our lives. The United States government created the system. They maintain it, control it, and make it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. It does not require the user to transmit any data. It does not require phone or Internet reception, but those technologies can increase the usefulness of the GPS positioning information.
The GPS provides important location information to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. Whether we are looking up the best traffic route for the drive home or tracking a package in the mail, GPS is here to stay.