Global Positioning System navigation tools are more commonly known as GPS units. The GPS acts as the new form of the old compass, except the GPS can do a whole lot more than point you north. Using satellites which have been specially sent into space, the GPS can tell you exactly what your position is on the planet. The clever little gadget can reveal your longitude, latitude and even altitude.
The special satellite system allows reception in most weather conditions.
When navigating by airplane, automobile or ship, the technology behind the GPS has come to play a central role in modern day travel. Car navigation GPS units make it possible to find your way around complex areas by way of satellite positioning.
A digital map on the unit's screen inside your car shows you the best possible route, often with voice prompts to accompany the visual aid. Motorcycle mounted GPS navigation has also become popular, especially for motorcycle touring. When it comes to seafaring and sports out at sea, GPS tracking devices can show themselves to be very handy indeed. With the aid of a GPS fish finder, fishing becomes a lot more rewarding. The GPS technology has even been adopted by cycle tourists or long distance cyclists who wish to track their position and altitude as well as timing, speed and other data. Another popular use of GPS in in golf, where a special golf GPS allows golfers to tee off with a greater knowledge of what lies ahead on the course.
Scientific and geographic fields also benefit from using GPS. The precise information made available by a GPS locater means that cartographers and land surveyors have found an irreplaceable tool in the GPS. Earthquakes and other natural disasters such as cyclones and tsunamis can now be monitored by GPS assisted methods, improving the accuracy and efficiency of those working to warn people of such events in time to prevent serious injuries or loss of life.
The GPS technology many take for granted today was developed by the United States Defense Department. In the beginning the system was called the Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System (NAVSTAR GPS). In 1978 the first GPS satellite was launched, and with the successful development of the system there have been several more satellites launched since then.
At the moment there are more than half a dozen GPS satellites orbiting the earth. The American government pays for the expensive maintenance programs necessary for the upkeep of the satellites, yet the GPS service is available for use by the public through privately owned GPS units such as those mentioned above.
New functions, as well as more dependable and improved accuracy of GPS units became a reality in 2005 thanks to the launch of GPS satellites with improved capabilities.
Extra signals have already been provided for the public by the new satellites, and in the time to come it can be expected that the system will grow and improve further.
Learn more about the basics of GPS Navigation Systems!