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Global Positioning Systems

  • By: Peter H. Dana
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The global positioning system (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system designed and operated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). GPS can provide three-dimensional (3D) position and guidance in any weather and at any time of the day over the entire surface of the Earth, in the air, and in low space orbits. GPS consists of a control segment run by DoD, a space segment consisting of 24 or more satellites, and a user segment that includes military and civilian receivers.

GPS evolved from earlier regional and global radio navigation systems such as the Navy Transit System, Omega, and Loran-C. It was first described in the mid 1970s, and by 1985, there were enough satellites to allow development and testing of receivers for land, sea, and ...

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