How does GPS work?

Who doesn’t know that? You are ready to set off, but don’t know the exact route from A to B. No problem, just type it into the car’s navigation system and you will be guided safely to your destination. But how does the car actually know where you are and where exactly you want to go?

4 things are needed for GPS

A navigation system is already built into most models that are now on the market and these devices work with the help of GPS. The GPS (Global Positioning System) was originally developed for the military, but since 1995 it can also be used by private individuals. It is used in car navigation devices as well as in smartphones and other devices.

Four things are needed to determine the exact location of a GPS device:

The first are satellites located 20,200 kilometers above the earth’s surface, the second is a ground station used for monitoring. Thirdly, geostationary satellites are needed that have a correction signal and fourthly, someone who owns a GPS device. There are currently 32 satellites in space. However, only 24 of these are in operation. The remaining satellites are “dormant”, are brought back into the correct position from Earth or are under repair, as the service life of such a satellite is only around ten years.

The more satellites, the more precise the positioning

The satellites in space transmit their exact position and the exact time at regular intervals. They get the time from atomic clocks on board. The GPS device now receives these transmitted signals and the more signals it receives from different satellites, the more precisely it can now determine its location, but at least four of them are required. Two each are required for longitude and latitude. The third is used for the altitude and the fourth for the exact time. The time it takes for the signal to travel from the satellite to the device is measured. During evaluation, the correction signal is taken into account and included in the calculations in the integrated processor. The speed can also be determined using GPS. The distance between two coordinates is measured and the time elapsed in between.

Now that the car knows where it is and where it should go, nothing stands in the way of the next journey.

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