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How GPS Works Today

Once upon a time, your ancestors used to look at the night sky to determine their location. Then we used a Thomas Guide, remember those? Today, it only takes one magical technology to get driving directions, send your picnic spot to a lost friend, or track how far you’ve gone during a workout. That technology is called GPS, and you’re about to find out the secret behind it.

Did you know that GPS was actually a military invention? The highest quality signals were only used for military purposes until May 2000, when it became available to all civilians for free. Now GPS is literally everywhere, and you can now even purchase GPS insoles to keep track of your kids or relatives with Alzheimer’s disease.

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A brief history of GPS 0:29
How does it work? 1:35
2-D and 3-D trilateration 2:56
Doing the calculations 5:21
And here’s a Bonus 8:05

#GPS #inventions #brightside

Music by Epidemic Sound

– To put it simply, GPS is a system that has three basic parts: satellites, ground stations, and receivers.
– Grounds stations use radars to find out if the satellites really are where they’re supposed to be.
– The GPS system has 32 active satellites orbiting the Earth. 24 of them are core satellites, and the rest serve as emergency replacements when something happens to the others.
– A receiver on Earth has to see at least 4 satellites to calculate an accurate location because the GPS uses a trilateration mechanism.
– 2-D trilateration is about calculating its latitude and longitude position on a map.
– When it comes to 3-D trilateration, it’s basically the same, but there’ll be spheres instead of circles on your drawing. 3-D position includes your latitude, longitude, and altitude.
– GPS satellites send information about their position and current time to a GPS receiver at certain intervals. The receiver gets the information in the form of a signal.
– GPS satellites have atomic clocks that keep the most precise time, but it would be impossible to install these clocks in every receiver.
– Satellites’ atomic clocks get 38 microseconds ahead of ground clocks every day. If scientists did nothing about it, GPS locations would be off by 6 miles more every day.
– There’s also a GPS almanac in the receiver that keeps track of where this or that satellite should be at any moment.
– GPS not only determines the most accurate location of people and objects, but also sends time signals that are accurate within 10 billionths of a second.
– Even though it’s incredibly accurate and useful, sometimes GPS takes people to unexpected places, especially in rural areas.

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