GPS or Global Positioning System is a location system designed to triangulate any point on the planetary surface, or in the skies above it.
It works via a receiver unit at the position to be checked, which has an internal clock, and a microwave receiver to receive signals from orbiting satellite or stratellite systems. The user does not have to transmit anything to the satellite and the satellite does not know the user is there.
The precise time delay for the clock tick of the microwave signal sent gives the distance to each satellite, with an error based on the accuracy of the receiver's clock.
By determining the position of, and distance to, at least three satellites, the receiver can compute its position using triangulation between them.
There are several very different GPS networks in orbit, each launched by a different power block. Whilst GPS is usually used as the catch-all for this type of system, it is worth notingthat GPS actually only refers to the US-created system, and three other such systems exist.
The GPS system alone, does not produce precise enough position location for same-location augmented reality use, however as the four networks are perfectly compatible with one another, satellites from each network can be referenced, making the data more and more location-precise.
The reason we need so many different networks is of course, that none of the powers trust one another enough, to leave their GPS capability in each other's hands alone. For once, international paranoia is distinctly to our benefit, as it allows far more precise data triangulation than would otherwise be possible.
The four systems include: BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (China), Galileo (Europe), Global Positioning system (United Stated), and GLONASS (Russia). It is likely that additional networks will be launched by other countries and power blocks as they grow more powerful.
See Also: GNSS
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