Essay On GPS: How The Global Positioning System Works

The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is a system of satellites and ground stations that provide real-time information about the location of an object. This includes remote sensing devices like cars and smartphones in addition to more traditional uses such as military navigation. In this article we’ll explore how GPS works from start to finish!

To start with….

Over the period of time, human beings have been cast to the skies to maneuver their way since ancient times. Remarkably, the ancient sailors relied on the arrangement in the night sky to discover where in particular they were and heading to. Right now, all we require is a simple hand-held GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver to work out our way where precisely we are in the world. On that account, we would define the meaning of the GPS as a satellite-based system that provides us the capabilities to ascertain or determine positions anywhere on earth.

Under the watchdog of the U.S, Department of Defense NAVISTAR, GPS gives continuous round-the-clock (24hours), three-dimensional positioning, real-time, navigation worldwide. Interestingly enough, GPS provides any person with the GPS receiver accessibility to the system, let alone compatible with any application that needs location coordinates. Before we look at how the GPS works, GPS constitutes of three segments that facilitate its operations namely, space-segment, user segment, and the control system (controlled by the American military). If we indulge in the space segment mentioned above that is the satellite themselves, the GPS satellites receive their power primarily from sun-seeking solar panels with backup batteries giving the alternative power.

Through radio signals, the GPS satellites perpetually broadcast satellite position as well as timing data through two frequencies. These radio signals astonishingly move at the speed of light taking relatively six over one-hundredth of a second to land on earth. Needless to say, without the direct line to the GPS receivers, the GPS satellite signals cannot reach earth. The GPS receiver is endowed with the capabilities of calculating its position through a technique referred to as satellite ranging, which constitutes the calculation of the length between the GPS receiver and the GPS satellites it’s possibly tracking. When it comes to calculating range, it is measured as expired transit time, meaning what the GPS receiver calculates is approximate of range other than an actual range. As a result, each GPS satellite is established followed by the transmission of their locations as part of the information sent through radio signals. Remarkably, based on the information generated from the GPS satellites, the GPS receiver ciphers its position being the unknown point on the ground.

Notably, the GPS has the capability of measuring the distance to the satellites. In order to do that, it begins by calculating the length between the GPS receiver and satellites which needs calculating the time required in order for the waves to move from the satellite to the receiver. What happens next is that immediately the receiver identifies the amount of time that has expired, it then spreads the distant-time of the wave times the speed of light to calculate the length. On account of that, the GPS receiver would be able to calculate the travel time of the satellite signal when it has identified at what time the signal left the satellite as well as when it landed on the receiver.

How would the one know how the signal has reached the receiver?

As a matter of fact, the GPS receiver only has to check its interior clock the moment the signal gets in to check what time it is. Besides that, how would it know at what point the signal left the satellite? It is imperative to understand all GPS receivers assimilate with the satellites in order to create the exact electronic code simultaneously. The moment the receiver gets a code from a satellite, it provides itself with an opportunity to trace back in its memory store and recalls when it released a similar code. With that in mind, it enables the receiver to establish at what point the signal set off from the satellite.

In a nutshell;

The Global Positioning System is one of the most important inventions in modern history. It has become embedded into our everyday lives, and we use it every day without even realizing it. GPS provides us with a wealth of information that can be used to improve quality of life for anyone who uses it–whether they are navigating their way around town or planning out a long trip across several states. Though this technology was developed over thirty years ago, its advancements continue to amaze people all over the world today!


Cooksey, D. (2016). Understanding the Global Positioning System (GPS). Retrieved from