Environmental                       Studies






GPS tracking: overview

Car tracking systems

Marine tracking

Wildlife tracking

Dog tracking

Pet tracking: overview

Pet tracking

Cat tracking

Personal track.: cell phone

Personal track.: via web

GPS tracking software

GPS terms

GPS collars: overview

GPS collars wildlife

GPS-GSM collars wildlife






Precision Farming



















































































































GPS = Global Positioning System

Definition - Description - Introduction - Term

How GPS works

The Global Positioning System  consists of a set of 24  operational satellites and land-based control stations. The system was designed for and is operated by the U. S. military, owned by the US Department of Defense (DoD).  But it is available on a worldwide basis to all civil GPS users with no direct charge.

GPS determines distance between a GPS satellite and a GPS receiver by measuring the amount of time it takes a radio signal to travel from the satellite to the receiver. Radio waves travel at the speed of light, which is about 300,000 kilometer per second. So, if the amount of time it takes for the signal to travel from the satellite to the receiver is known, the distance from the satellite to the receiver (distance = speed x time) can be determined. If the exact time when the signal was transmitted and the exact time when it was received are known, the signal's travel time can be determined.



View from a NAVSTAR satellite at 97 degrees west at the northernmost point in it's orbit, Source: Earth and Moon viewer by John Walker


In order to do this, the satellites and the receivers use very accurate clocks which are synchronized so that they generate the same code at exactly the same time. The code received from the satellite can be compared with the code generated by the receiver. By comparing the codes, the time difference between when the satellite generated the code and when the receiver generated the code can be determined. This interval is the travel time of the code. Multiplying this travel time, in seconds, by 300,000 kilometer per second gives the distance from the receiver position to the satellite in miles.

Each satellite transmits a coded signal on two carrier frequencies that says, amongst other things, where it is in the sky. In its simplest form a GPS receiver receives the signal from the GPS satellite and uses the code to determine its distance from the satellite. If the distance to four satellites can be measured at once then the receiver can calculate its own position in real time.
A position calculated in this way is accurate to better than 15 metres. Do you know the term DOP?


GPS System Segments

The GPS consists of three major segments:

   Space segment

   Control segment

   User segment


    More GPS tracking resources




USNO NAVSTAR Global Positioning System


GPS Library 


GPS World Online Magazine 


P. Dana: GPS Overview

http://www.colorado.edu/geography/gcraft/notes/gps/gps_ f.html

Peter Bennet's site   


Joe Mehaffey and Jack Yeazel's GPS site