Each Global Positioning Satellite is built with an atomic clock, a computer, and a radio. The history of GPS systems can be traced to when the United States Department of Defense began to develop a hour, all-weather global positioning system to provide support for the positioning requirements of US armed forces.
Ideally, the GPS system was designed as a form of replacement to already large navigational system that was already in use, and as well, the need to obtain reliability and survivability for navigation systems in handling a wide variety of dynamics Kaplan, ; Parkinson, and Spilker Other motives that initiated the development of GPS Technology included the need for a system to service unlimited users, and a system that does not require the transmission of signals from users to satellites. Eventually, it led to the design of a system that surpassed the intended concepts such that a one-way system was developed to transmit signals with no receiving functions.
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This function was essential in that enemies could not detect signals being relayed within the confines of the military. Additionally, the developed system used microwave transmission technology, was equipped with the latest atomic clocks, could transmit signals regardless of the prevailing weather conditions, and provided accurate navigation and positioning details Parkinson, and Spilker Due to the relatively cheap cost and inexpensive equipment, the GPS technology was availed freely to the civilian population.
As earlier mentioned, the Global Positioning System consists of 24 satellites, 21 of which are active while three 3 are spares and are located at an altitude of miles above the surface of the earth El-Rabbany, The receivers on the ground detect their positions in reference to the GPS satellites. The primary navigation principle is obtained based on the measurement of pseudoranges between the four satellites and the user Seeber, Equally, the stations located on the ground provide precise monitoring of the orbit at every level of the satellite and measures the travel time signals transmitted between the four satellites and the receiver.
In turn, the accurate direction, location, and speed is the measure. GPS segments are categorized into three distinct segments that include control segment, user segment, and space segment. The space segment contains at least 24 GPS satellites that follow a specific pattern when orbiting the earth Seeber, The satellites travel at an approximate speed of 7, miles per hour, and the satellites are spaced such that at least four GPS satellites can send signals to a GPS receiver located anywhere on earth.
From each GPS receiver, coded radio signals are sent to earth and each signal contains particular information. The information includes the particular satellite sending the information, the exact position of the satellite, date and time the signal was sent, and whether the satellite was performing properly.
Satellites use solar energy, but they are also powered by backup batteries in the absence of solar energy Seeber, Majority of the satellites have been built to last for approximately 10 years after which they are replaced. The control segment entails constant monitoring of the health of satellites, the orbital configuration, and intensity of signals.
The control segment is further subdivided into ground antennas, monitor stations, and master control station.
There are at least six unmanned monitor stations all over the earth, each station is in constantly receiving, and monitoring information from GPS satellites and at the same time relays the clock and orbital information to master control stations MCS. Similarly, Master Control Stations make precise corrections of orbital and clock information received from monitor stations.
It sends the corrected information to ground antennas Seeber, Last, the Ground Antennas are responsible for receiving corrected clock and orbital information from the Master Control Station and in turn, relays the corrected information to appropriate satellites. Finally, the user segment of the GPS systems is made up of GPS receivers, which are responsible for collecting and processing signals received from GPS satellites that are in the range.
It then uses the collected information to find and display the location, time, speed, and altitude of the receiver Seeber, No information is transmitted from the receiver to the satellites. Above all, GPS technologies provide accurate position information in three dimensions vertical and horizontal information. Currently, it is estimated that the number of civilian users exceeds the number of military users.
In light of these characteristics, the global sectors are exceedingly utilizing the services of GPS technologies. GPS systems were initially designed for military purposes and they have remained significant in facilitating military operations.
Military ships, aircraft, tanks, and equipment use GPS technology for navigation purposes, provision of close air support, improving weapon technology, and determining target destination. In agriculture, GPS technologies are used in precision farming to monitor the process of applying fertilizer and pesticides in addition to proving accurate location information that enable farmers to plow, map fields, harvest, and identify potential disease areas or weed infestation.
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In the aviation industry, aircraft and airplane pilots utilize GPS technology to identify en route navigation and airport approaches. In environmental management, GPS technology has been utilized in surveying disaster prone areas, and as well in mapping the movement of environmental phenomena such as hurricanes or forest fires. Interestingly, GPS technology can also be used in the identification of locations that have been altered or submerged by natural disasters.
Another area that utilizes GPS technology is Ground transportation. GPS technologies are used in vehicle tracking systems, in-vehicle navigation systems, and in automatic vehicle location systems. Majority of these systems shows the location of vehicles on an electronic sheet map thereby enabling drivers to track their exact locations and as well, get an overview of other destinations. Other systems are designed to automatically design a route and provide turn-by-turn directions to provide guidance to drivers. Furthermore, GPS technologies facilitates the process of monitoring and planning routes for emergency vehicles and delivery vans.
Rail transport systems also use GPS technologies to estimate precise locations of trains, manage the flow of traffic, prevent collision of trains, and in the estimation of time, speed, and distance covered by trains Andrews, Weill, and Grewal, In marine systems, GPS technologies assist in marine navigation, surveying underwater, routing traffic, locating navigational hazards, and marine mapping.
Moreover, commercial fishing fleets use GPS technology to identify and navigate to areas with optimum fishing opportunities and as well to track the migration of fishes. GPS technologies are also used for public safety such as locating emergency areas, and in recreation for finding bearings, estimating distance, time, and in returning to the original locations. Space science also utilizes GPS technologies to track and control the behavior and motions of satellites in orbit.
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Space shuttles and future rockets also depend on GPS technologies. Finally yet important, field of surveying heavily utilizes GPS technologies in both complex and basic tasks such as development of urban infrastructures and defining property lines respectively.
Furthermore, mapping roads, rail systems, and surveying land maps is possible with the utilization of GPS technologies. Additionally, the number of obstacles that can obscure your receiver from the GPS systems are critical in the determining the precision and accuracy of information obtained from GPS systems. The types of receivers also play a significant role in the determination of GPS accuracy. The accuracy of most GPS systems is affected by errors.
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Common sources of errors to GPS systems include inaccuracies associated with the reported location of satellites orbital errors , receiver clock errors, signal multipath that makes GPS signals bounce off objects, and number of visible satellites, which can affect position reading or impede signal reception Tsui, Satellite Shading also affects the accuracy of the information. For instance, the ideal satellite geometry is achieved when satellites are widely located at angles that are relative to one another.
In order to obtain accurate information from Global Positioning Systems, specific factors should be put into consideration during the acquisition of GPS tools. First, the GPS tool should be durable to ensure that it is capable of withstanding rigors work and continued usage. Second, the ability of the GPS tool to obtain and maintain the most reliable signal strength despite the existence of obstructions such as the location, changing weather conditions, and the sensitivity of the receiver Tsui, Third, GPS components consume a lot of power and therefore, battery life is a critical factor to consider during the acquisition of GPS equipment.
Other noteworthy features include the portability ranges, cellular signal reliability, the length of acquiring GPS signals from satellites, configuration complexities, and ease of use among others. The WAAS program was specifically developed to assist pilots is determining direct en route paths, identifying precision approach services to runways, and to ensure maximum capacity and safety improvements in all weather conditions Tsui, The analysis and discussion of Global Positioning System concepts has revealed that GPS technology is a force in the force.
Perhaps the system designers had different intentions when developing and designing GPS technologies but these applications have added to the versatility of usage of GPS not only as a system for estimating the precise positioning of objects but also in the provision of accurate and reliable navigation information. Indeed, the GPS technology supports numerous positioning and navigation applications that satisfy a multitude of user needs.
At this moment, the widespread usage of GPS applications in different sectors of the economy makes it exceedingly difficult to think of a life without Global Positioning Systems. It is evident that creating a complex system such as the GPS technology is not an easy task and this can be proven from the few competitors of GPS technology. GPS technologies and systems are used in different sectors of society. This includes road and rail transportation, marine navigation, agriculture, the airline industry, space science, recreation, military, and in the provision of public safety among others.
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Information and signals relayed by GPS systems are safe and reliable thereby making GPS technology the ideal navigation and positioning equipment. The evaluation and analysis of the structure, operation, and application of GPS systems have shown that maintaining the GPS technology is a complex activity given the nature of the GPS technologies. Notwithstanding these complexities, GPS services are maintained and offered free of charge thereby making it available for an unlimited number of users and applications.
Global Positioning Systems have a potential future judging from the current technological advancements.
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Virtually, every communication and navigation device is manufactured or fitted with a GPS receiver. From basic consumer electronic products such as mobile phones to complex navigation and military tools such as ships, aircrafts, and weapons, are both built with GPS technologies Tsui, Importantly, the Global Positioning System is also advancing at an increasing rate and therefore, more is still to be expected with regard to the future of GPS tools and applications.
These errors have an effect of affecting the signal strength and in turn, leading to inaccurate positioning and navigation information. Nonetheless, these challenges can be avoided by ensuring that GPS receivers and equipment are evaluated to test their reliability. Factors that must be considered during the evaluation of GPS systems include durability, the capability to obtain and maintain the most reliable signal strength, and power consumption Tsui, As such, a number of procedures can be followed in evaluating GPS tools and equipment.
These includes conducting an evaluation and testing exercise to ascertain the ideal characteristics, identifying the credibility of vendors, examining the legal considerations, and lastly, identifying ways of overcoming the challenges. Overall, there is potential in GPS technology provided corrective measures be taken and as well, there is the need to conduct immense research and innovation in GPS technology to ensure its sustainability. Andrews, A.