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Virtual Dictionary


A GNSS or Global Navigation Satellite System is the actual name that should be supplanted for the term 'GPS' in common usage. The GPS system is actually the US-created GNSS system, and is only one of several separate networks of positionaling satellites, each run by a different power block.

The capabilities of a GNSS system actually far surpass the current GPS system. The GPS system only provides the ability to determine position. A GNSS on the other hand, is a considerably more complex and useful system. As such, it includes:

Real time navigation information
Autonomous integrity checking
Accuracy sufficient for safe navigation

The easiest way to achieve these aims and create a GNSS is to use more satellites / stratellites in a GPS system, to increase signal density and thus accuracy, upgrade the timing of the internal clocks in receiver units to minimise errors, and use multiple redundant, and independent GPS systems, to check for integrity.

It is quite fortunate then, that we actually have several large, independent GNSS systems, each of which is quite happy to let anyone use it at any time.

Currently there are four systems, although that may well change as more countries become capable of fielding their own satellite networks. The current systems include: The four systems include: BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (China), Galileo (Europe), Global Positioning system (United Stated), and GLONASS (Russia).

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Related Dictionary Entries for GNSS:


BeiDou Navigation Satellite System


Global Navigation Satellite System




Satellite-Based Augmentation System



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GPS technology has broadly advanced science and society’s ability to pinpoint precise information, from driving directions to tracking ground motions during earthquakes. A new technique led by a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanogr...