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Role Of GPS

by diane 2010-06-01 11:05

Not only the GPS is becoming standard equipment on new cars, but it also became a part of business management for shipping companies, firefighters and even dog owners. We take that utility for granted now.
In order to make the system more reliable and accurate, scientists and engineers are working on an $8 billion upgrade. 
The new system is designed to pinpoint a location within an arm's length, compared with a margin of error of 20 feet or more today.
The upgrade is designed in part to prevent outages by increasing the number of signals beamed to Earth from satellites orbiting 12,000 miles above. By triangulating the signals from four satellites, GPS receivers - and there are now more than a billion of them - can pinpoint your exact location on the ground.
The Cold War sparked the need for something better.
When the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, scientists at Johns Hopkins University scrambled to track it. They soon realized they could determine Sputnik's position by monitoring the radio waves it emitted.
In the 1960s the Pentagon launched more than a dozen satellites under a program called Transit in which submarines received satellite positioning signals when they surfaced. But the system had limited accuracy.
The military seized on the technology quickly, using GPS to guide troops through sand storms during the first Gulf War. Since then, GPS has revolutionized warfare.
The Pentagon operates and controls the GPS satellite system used in every country around the world. Worried that the U.S. could flip the switch and shut off GPS capability to the rest of the world, several countries are developing their own satellites.


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