What is a GPS (and What Does it Mean)

It is known as gps to the acronyms “Global Positioning System” which in Spanish means “Global Positioning System”. GPS is a navigation system based on 24 satellites (21 operational and 3 backup), in orbit over the planet earth that sends information on the position of a person or object at any time and weather conditions.

The GPS was created, installed and used in 1973 by the United States Department of Defense, at first it was for sole and exclusive use for military operations but from the 1980s the United States government allowed society civilian enjoy this navigation system.

GPS can be used in boats, trucks, planes, cars, among others. On the other hand, the GPS was designed so that the user obtains knowledge about his position, information on the direction to which he is heading, speed, approximate time of arrival, among other data. Some offer voice guidance, to give instructions to the driver about the movements he must make to follow the correct direction, alternative routes, speed limits, among others.

Now, to determine the position of an object, person or address, the GPS calculates the value of the longitude, in reference to the Greenwich Meridian, the value of the latitude and, finally, the value of the altitude. To locate a point, at least four satellites are essential, and the GPS receiver receives the signals and time from each of them, and through triangulation calculates the position where it is located.

Currently there are two types of satellite navigation systems: American GPS and GLONASS controlled by the Russian Government. Also, the European Union intends to launch a satellite navigation system called Galileo.

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See also:

  • Cardinal points
  • Compass