Detailed Working of GPS System


Well, you all might have heard about the GPS system, but how many of you exactly know how the GPS system works? I can bet, not many of you can answer this question, so let’s rectify this issue and understand the working of GPS.

GPS or as known as Global Positioning System is a navigation system based on satellite. It provides time and location information to GPS gadget located anywhere on the earth. GPS works in all weather condition as it is managed by the US Air Force.

GPS signals operate independently without internet connections or telephone services. However, the presence of a good Internet connection and telephone service will increase the strength of GPS operations. It is initially developed by the US military to support secret army operations. But, today anyone can use GPS technology with the help of a good receiver.

Working in a Global Positioning System

Any time, there are four GPS satellites working in the sight of earth’s orbit. Each GPS satellite sends a signal to the GPS receiver regarding its current location and position after equal time intervals. This information is transmitted to the receiver in the form of signals which will be later on intercepted by the receiver. These signals are radio signals which travel with the speed of light. The distance between the GPS satellite and GPS receiver is calculated by finding the difference between the time when the signal is transmitted by the satellite and when it is received by the receiver.

When the receiver receives signals from at least three satellites, then it will pinpoint the location using the trilateration process. GPS receiver required input from 3 satellites to calculate 2D position, however, to calculate 3D position information from 4 satellites is required.

Trilateration Process

Trilateration is a process of determining your current position using the intersection of spheres. When a receiver receives a signal from one of the satellite, it calculates its distance from the satellite considering a 3-D sphere with the satellite located at the center of the sphere. So, once the receiver has performed a similar process with the three satellites, then the receiver will move further to locate the intersection point between three spheres to intercept the location.

Once the location has been calculated find the GPS receiver, and the GPS device can easily predict the following things;

  • Times  of sunrise and sunset
  • Speed
  • Track
  • Distance

Technical Issues Faced by GPS

  • The issue of time synchronization between the GPS satellite and receiver is a very common technical error.
  • The issue of extracting real-time location from the GPS receiver is also a technical error.
  • The issue of calculating the precise time of flight.
  • The issue of interference of different signals with one another.

What is DGPS?

DGPS is an advanced version of a GPS system with lots of enhanced features and error controlling technology. This advanced version can locate the location more prominently and correct. To properly function this technology;

  • GPS receiver needs to be established in a precisely known location.
  • The receiver calculates it’s position based on the satellite signals and compares it’s location to the known location.
  • The difference between the two locations is recorded against the information received by GPS receiver.

DGPS using the station based broadcast system to calculate the difference between the satellite and the receiver time. It is a future of GPS technology, so now you know how the whole system of GPS navigation works. We hope that this article has solved your purpose of understanding the GPS system.

About the author

Arpit Agarwal

I am a freelancer content writer, web developer and Video editor who loves to write technical stuff and on the other hand makes awesome videos as well. I like to make people happy with my writing and also try to make sure, you come back to read more.

By Arpit Agarwal

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