Links & Resources | Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the only fully functional Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Utilizing a constellation of at least 24 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals, the system enables a GPS receiver to determine its location, speed, direction, and time. Other similar systems are the Russian GLONASS (incomplete as of 2008), the upcoming European Galileo positioning system, the proposed COMPASS navigation system of China, and IRNSS of India.
Developed by the United States Department of Defense, GPS is officially named NAVSTAR GPS (Contrary to popular belief, NAVSTAR is not an acronym, but simply a name given by John Walsh, a key decision maker when it came to the budget for the GPS program). The satellite constellation is managed by the United States Air Force 50th Space Wing. The cost of maintaining the system is approximately US$750 million per year, including the replacement of aging satellites, and research and development.
GPS Shield n. An early-warning system that uses an array of GPS units to detect subtle seismic movements preceding catastrophic tsunami waves. An 18-unit network, calibrated to provide a 10-minute alert, is in development for Indonesia.
Following the shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive making the system available for free for civilian use as a common good. Since then, GPS has become a widely used aid to navigation worldwide, and a useful tool for map-making, land surveying, commerce, scientific uses, and hobbies such as geocaching. GPS also provides a precise time reference used in many applications including scientific study of earthquakes, and synchronization of telecommunications networks.
Geocachers discuss Plugged-In and geocaching in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.
The University’s Center for Geographic Information Systems & Applied Geographics is using the latest technology, including GPS:
What else can GPS do?
GPS can track practically everything, including trees:
GPS can help you with your golf game:
GPS can save money at the gas pump:
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) uses GPS for a variety of purposes, including monitoring volcanoes:
Use GPS to play an adventure game called Geocaching: