PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

by Michio Kaku

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PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

Unread postby Liz » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:53 pm

This tibit fell through a wormhole. :perplexed: :-? :hypnotic: But luckily, it was able to travel back. I apologize for any posts that were lost in the process. Here is is again.....


GPS

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) developed by the United States Department of Defense and managed by the United States Air Force 50th Space Wing. It is the only fully functional GNSS in the world, can be used freely, and is often used by civilians for navigation purposes. It uses a constellation of between 24 and 32 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals, which allow GPS receivers to determine their current location, the time, and their velocity. Since it became fully operational in 1993, GPS has become a widely used aid to navigation worldwide. Its applications are detailed later in this tidbit. I chose to focus more on that aspect of GPS than the technical end.


History

The first satellite navigation system, Transit, used by the United States Navy, was first successfully tested in 1960. Using a constellation of five satellites, it could provide a navigational fix approximately once per hour. In 1967, the U.S. Navy developed the Timation satellite which proved the ability to place accurate clocks in space, a technology that GPS relies upon. In the 1970s, the ground-based Omega Navigation System, based on signal phase comparison, became the first worldwide radio navigation system.

The design of GPS is based partly on similar ground-based radio navigation systems, such as LORAN and the Decca Navigator developed in the early 1940s, and used during World War II. Additional inspiration for the GPS came when the Soviet Union launched the first Sputnik in 1957. A team of U.S. scientists led by Dr. Richard B. Kershner were monitoring Sputnik's radio transmissions. They discovered that, because of the Doppler effect, the frequency of the signal being transmitted by Sputnik was higher as the satellite approached, and lower as it continued away from them. They realized that since they knew their exact location on the globe, they could pinpoint where the satellite was along its orbit by measuring the Doppler distortion.

After Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down in 1983 after straying into the USSR's prohibited airspace, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive making GPS freely available for civilian use as a common good. The satellites were launched between 1989 and 1993.

Initially the highest quality signal was reserved for military use, while the signal available for civilian use was intentionally degraded ("Selective Availability", SA). Selective Availability was ended in 2000, improving the precision of civilian GPS from about 100m to about 20m.


The Basic Concept of GPS

A GPS receiver calculates its position by precisely timing the signals sent by the GPS satellites high above the Earth. Each satellite continually transmits messages containing the time the message was sent, precise orbital information (the ephemeris), and the general system health and rough orbits of all GPS satellites (the almanac). The receiver measures the transit time of each message and computes the distance to each satellite. Geometric trilateration is used to combine these distances with the location of the satellites to determine the receiver's location. The position is displayed, perhaps with a moving map display or latitude and longitude; elevation information may be included. Many GPS units also show derived information such as direction and speed, calculated from position changes.

It might seem three satellites are enough to solve for position, since space has three dimensions. However a very small clock error multiplied by the very large speed of light—the speed at which satellite signals propagate—results in a large positional error. The receiver uses a fourth satellite to solve for x, y, z, and t which is used to correct the receiver's clock. While most GPS applications use the computed location only and effectively hide the very accurately computed time, it is used in a few specialized GPS applications such as time transfer and traffic signal timing.

Although four satellites are required for normal operation, fewer apply in special cases. If one variable is already known (for example, a ship or plane may have known elevation), a receiver can determine its position using only three satellites. Some GPS receivers may use additional clues or assumptions (such as reusing the last known altitude, dead reckoning, inertial navigation, or including information from the vehicle computer) to give a degraded position when fewer than four satellites are visible.

Orbiting at an altitude of approximately 20,200 kilometers about 10 satellites are visible within line of sight (12,600 miles or 10,900 nautical miles; orbital radius of 26,600 km (16,500 mi or 14,400 NM)), each SV makes two complete orbits each sidereal day. The ground track of each satellite therefore repeats each (sidereal) day. This was very helpful during development, since even with just four satellites, correct alignment means all four are visible from one spot for a few hours each day. As of March 2008, there were 31 actively broadcasting satellites in the GPS constellation. The additional satellites improve the precision of GPS receiver calculations by providing redundant measurements. With the increased number of satellites, the constellation was changed to a nonuniform arrangement. Such an arrangement was shown to improve reliability and availability of the system, relative to a uniform system, when multiple satellites fail.

Image
A visual example of the GPS constellation
in motion with the Earth rotating.
Notice how the number of satellites
in view from a given point on the
Earth's surface, in this example at 45°N,
changes with time.


TIMING

In addition to longitude, latitude, and altitude, GPS provides a critical fourth dimension – time. Each GPS satellite contains multiple atomic clocks that contribute very precise time data to the GPS signals. GPS receivers decode these signals, effectively synchronizing each receiver to the atomic clocks. This enables users to determine the time to within 100 billionths of a second, without the cost of owning and operating atomic clocks.

Precise time is crucial to a variety of economic activities around the world. Communication systems, electrical power grids, and financial networks all rely on precision timing for synchronization and operational efficiency. The free availability of GPS time has enabled cost savings for companies that depend on precise time and has led to significant advances in capability.

For example, wireless telephone and data networks use GPS time to keep all of their base stations in perfect synchronization. This allows mobile handsets to share limited radio spectrum more efficiently. Similarly, digital broadcast radio services use GPS time to ensure that the bits from all radio stations arrive at receivers in lockstep. This allows listeners to tune between stations with a minimum of delay.

Companies worldwide use GPS to time-stamp business transactions, providing a consistent and accurate way to maintain records and ensure their traceability. Major investment banks use GPS to synchronize their network computers located around the world. Large and small businesses are turning to automated systems that can track, update, and manage multiple transactions made by a global network of customers, and these require accurate timing information available through GPS.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses GPS to synchronize reporting of hazardous weather from its 45 Terminal Doppler Weather Radars located throughout the United States.

Instrumentation is another application that requires precise timing. Distributed networks of instruments that must work together to precisely measure common events require timing sources that can guarantee accuracy at several points. GPS-based timing works exceptionally well for any application in which precise timing is required by devices that are dispersed over wide geographic areas. For example, integration of GPS time into seismic monitoring networks enables researchers to quickly locate the epicenters of earthquakes and other seismic events.

Power companies and utilities have fundamental requirements for time and frequency to enable efficient power transmission and distribution. Repeated power blackouts have demonstrated to power companies the need for improved time synchronization throughout the power grid. Analyses of these blackouts have led many companies to place GPS-based time synchronization devices in power plants and substations. By analyzing the precise timing of an electrical anomaly as it propagates through a grid, engineers can trace back the exact location of a power line break.

Some users, such as national laboratories, require the time at a higher level of precision than GPS provides. These users routinely use GPS satellites not for direct time acquisition, but for communication of high-precision time over long distances. By simultaneously receiving the same GPS signal in two places and comparing the results, the atomic clock time at one location can be communicated to the other. National laboratories around the world use this "common view" technique to compare their time scales and establish Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). They use the same technique to disseminate their time scales to their own nations.

New applications of GPS timing technology appear every day. Hollywood studios are incorporating GPS in their movie slates, allowing for unparalleled control of audio and video data, as well as multi-camera sequencing. The ultimate applications for GPS, like the time it measures, are limitless.

As GPS becomes modernized, further benefits await users. The addition of the second and third civilian GPS signals will increase the accuracy and reliability of GPS time, which will remain free and available to the entire world.


ROADS & HIGHWAYS

The availability and accuracy of GPS offers increased efficiencies and safety for vehicles using highways, streets, and mass transit systems. Many of the problems associated with the routing and dispatch of commercial vehicles is significantly reduced or eliminated with the help of GPS. This is also true for the management of mass transit systems, road maintenance crews, and emergency vehicles.

GPS enables automatic vehicle location and in-vehicle navigation systems that are widely used throughout the world today. By combining GPS position technology with systems that can display geographic information or with systems that can automatically transmit data to display screens or computers, a new dimension in surface transportation is realized.

A geographic information system (GIS) stores, analyzes, and displays geographically referenced information provided in large part by GPS. Today GIS is used to monitor vehicle location, making possible effective strategies that can keep transit vehicles on schedule and inform passengers of precise arrival times. Mass transit systems use this capability to track rail, bus, and other services to improve on-time performance.

Many new capabilities are made possible with the help of GPS. Instant car pools are feasible since people desiring a ride can be instantly matched with a vehicle in a nearby area.

Using GPS technology to help track and forecast the movement of freight has made a logistical revolution, including an application known as time-definite delivery. In time-definite delivery, trucking companies use GPS for tracking to guarantee delivery and pickup at the time promised, whether over short distances or across time zones. When an order comes in, a dispatcher punches a computer function, and a list of trucks appears on the screen, displaying a full array of detailed information on the status of each of them. If a truck is running late or strays off route, an alert is sent to the dispatcher.

Many nations use GPS to help survey their road and highway networks, by identifying the location of features on, near, or adjacent to the road networks. These include service stations, maintenance and emergency services and supplies, entry and exit ramps, damage to the road system, etc. The information serves as an input to the GIS data gathering process. This database of knowledge helps transportation agencies to reduce maintenance and service costs and enhances the safety of drivers using the roads.

Research is underway to provide warnings to drivers of potential critical situations, such as traffic violations or crashes. Additional research is being conducted to examine the potential for minimal vehicle control when there is a clear need for action, such as the pre-deployment of air bags. The position information provided by GPS is an integral part of this research.

GPS is an essential element in the future of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). ITS encompasses a broad range of communications-based information and electronics technologies. Research is being conducted in the area of advanced driver assistance systems, which include road departure and lane change collision avoidance systems. These systems need to estimate the position of a vehicle relative to lane and road edge with an accuracy of 10 centimeters.


SPACE

Earth Orbit

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is revolutionizing and revitalizing the way nations operate in space, from guidance systems for crewed vehicles to the management, tracking, and control of communication satellite constellations, to monitoring the Earth from space.


The Moon, Mars, and Beyond

The U.S. vision for space exploration, being implemented by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), includes developing innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures for returning to the Moon and preparing the way for future human missions to Mars and beyond. The vision will stimulate new research that will literally become the final frontier in navigation. Drawing on the experience with GPS, one could imagine creating a GPS-like network of satellites around the Moon and Mars. A Lunar or Martian network could provide an integrated communications and navigation infrastructure to support exploration and science missions both in lunar orbit and on the surface of the Moon and Mars.

NASA is also studying the utility of placing GPS-like beacons on satellites destined for the Sun-Earth Lagrangian points. Geodetic reference points could be established at these locations to support the future exploration of the Solar System.

The figure below depicts a Martian communication and navigation concept of two satellites in areostationary orbit (equivalent of geostationary orbit in Mars).

Image


AVIATION

Aviators throughout the world use GPS to increase the safety and efficiency of flight. With its accurate, continuous, and global capabilities, GPS offers seamless satellite navigation services that satisfy many of the requirements for aviation users. Space-based position and navigation enables three-dimensional position determination for all phases of flight from departure, en route, and arrival, to airport surface navigation.

The trend toward an Area Navigation concept means a greater role for GPS. Area Navigation allows aircraft to fly user-preferred routes from waypoint to waypoint, where waypoints do not depend on ground infrastructure. Procedures have been expanded to use GPS and augmented services for all phases of flight. This has been especially true in areas that lack suitable ground based navigation aids or surveillance equipment.

New and more efficient air routes made possible by GPS are continuing to expand. Vast savings in time and money are being realized. In many cases, aircraft flying over data-sparse areas such as oceans have been able to safely reduce their separation between one another, allowing more aircraft to fly more favorable and efficient routes, saving time, fuel, and increasing cargo revenue.

Improved approaches to airports, which significantly increase operational benefits and safety, are now being implemented even at remote locations where traditional ground-based services are unavailable. In some regions of the world, satellite signals are augmented, or improved for special aviation applications, such as landing planes during poor visibility conditions. In those cases, even greater precision operations are possible.

The good news for the aviation community is that GPS is being constantly improved and modernized. A main component of the ongoing civilian modernization effort is the addition of two new signals. These signals complement the existing civilian service. The first of these new signals is for general use in non-safety critical applications. The second new signal will be internationally protected for aviation navigational purposes. This additional safety-of-life civilian signal will make GPS an even more robust navigation service for many aviation applications.

The second safety-of-life signal will enable significant benefits above and beyond the capabilities of the current GPS services. The availability of this signal offers increased instrument approach opportunity throughout the world by making the use of dual-frequency avionics possible. Dual frequency means that errors that occur in the signals due to disturbances in the ionosphere can be significantly reduced through the simultaneous use of two signals. This will improve the overall system robustness, to include accuracy, availability, and integrity, and will allow a precise approach capability with little or no ground infrastructure investment.

Reliance on GPS as the foundation for today and tomorrow's air traffic management system is a major part of many national plans. Those aviation authorities that are moving forward with GPS have observed and documented reductions in flight time, workload, and operating costs for both the airspace user and service provider. GPS also serves as an essential component for many other aviation systems, such as the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) that has proven successful in reducing the risk of Controlled Flight into Terrain, a major cause of many aircraft accidents.


AGRICULTURE

In the past, it was difficult for farmers to correlate production techniques and crop yields with land variability. This limited their ability to develop the most effective soil/plant treatment strategies that could have enhanced their production. Today, more precise application of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and better control of the dispersion of those chemicals are possible through precision agriculture, thus reducing expenses, producing a higher yield, and creating a more environmentally friendly farm.

Precision agriculture is now changing the way farmers and agribusinesses view the land from which they reap their profits. Precision agriculture is about collecting timely geospatial information on soil-plant-animal requirements and prescribing and applying site-specific treatments to increase agricultural production and protect the environment. Where farmers may have once treated their fields uniformly, they are now seeing benefits from micromanaging their fields. Precision agriculture is gaining in popularity largely due to the introduction of high technology tools into the agricultural community that are more accurate, cost effective, and user friendly. Many of the new innovations rely on the integration of on-board computers, data collection sensors, and GPS time and position reference systems.

Many believe that the benefits of precision agriculture can only be realized on large farms with huge capital investments and experience with information technologies. Such is not the case. There are inexpensive and easy-to-use methods and techniques that can be developed for use by all farmers. Through the use of GPS, GIS, and remote sensing, information needed for improving land and water use can be collected. Farmers can achieve additional benefits by combining better utilization of fertilizers and other soil amendments, determining the economic threshold for treating pest and weed infestations, and protecting the natural resources for future use.

GPS equipment manufacturers have developed several tools to help farmers and agribusinesses become more productive and efficient in their precision farming activities. Today, many farmers use GPS-derived products to enhance operations in their farming businesses. Location information is collected by GPS receivers for mapping field boundaries, roads, irrigation systems, and problem areas in crops such as weeds or disease. The accuracy of GPS allows farmers to create farm maps with precise acreage for field areas, road locations and distances between points of interest. GPS allows farmers to accurately navigate to specific locations in the field, year after year, to collect soil samples or monitor crop conditions.

Crop advisors use rugged data collection devices with GPS for accurate positioning to map pest, insect, and weed infestations in the field. Pest problem areas in crops can be pinpointed and mapped for future management decisions and input recommendations. The same field data can also be used by aircraft sprayers, enabling accurate swathing of fields without use of human “flaggers” to guide them. Crop dusters equipped with GPS are able to fly accurate swaths over the field, applying chemicals only where needed, minimizing chemical drift, reducing the amount of chemicals needed, thereby benefiting the environment. GPS also allows pilots to provide farmers with accurate maps.


MARINE

GPS has changed the way the world operates. This is especially true for marine operations, including search and rescue. GPS provides the fastest and most accurate method for mariners to navigate, measure speed, and determine location. This enables increased levels of safety and efficiency for mariners worldwide.

It is important in marine navigation for the ship's officer to know the vessel's position while in open sea and also in congested harbors and waterways. While at sea, accurate position, speed, and heading are needed to ensure the vessel reaches its destination in the safest, most economical and timely fashion that conditions will permit. The need for accurate position information becomes even more critical as the vessel departs from or arrives in port. Vessel traffic and other waterway hazards make maneuvering more difficult, and the risk of accidents becomes greater.

Mariners and oceanographers are increasingly using GPS data for underwater surveying, buoy placement, and navigational hazard location and mapping. Commercial fishing fleets use GPS to navigate to optimum fishing locations, track fish migrations, and ensure compliance with regulations.

An enhancement to the basic GPS signal known as Differential GPS (DGPS) provides much higher precision and increased safety in its coverage areas for maritime operations. Many nations use DGPS for operations such as buoy positioning, sweeping, and dredging. This enhancement improves harbor navigation.

Governments and industrial organizations around the world are working together to develop performance standards for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems, which use GPS and/or DGPS for positioning information. These systems are revolutionizing marine navigation and are leading to the replacement of paper nautical charts.

GPS is playing an increasingly important role in the management of maritime port facilities. GPS technology, coupled with geographic information system (GIS) software, is key to the efficient management and operation of automated container placement in the world's largest port facilities. GPS facilitates the automation of the pick-up, transfer, and placement process of containers by tracking them from port entry to exit. With millions of container shipments being placed in port terminals annually, GPS has greatly reduced the number of lost or misdirected containers and lowered associated operation costs.

GPS information is embedded within a system known as the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmission. The AIS, which is endorsed by the International Maritime Organization, is used for vessel traffic control around busy seaways. This service is not only vital for navigation, but is increasingly used to bolster the security of ports and waterways by providing governments with greater situational awareness of commercial vessels and their cargo. AIS uses a transponder system that operates in the VHF maritime band and is capable of communicating ship to ship as well as ship to shore, transmitting information relating to ship identification, geographic location, vessel type, and cargo information -- all on a real-time, wholly automated basis.


RAIL

Rail systems in many parts of the world use GPS in combination with various sensors, computers, and communication systems to improve safety, security, and operational effectiveness. These technologies help to reduce accidents, delays, operating costs, and dangerous emissions, while increasing track capacity, customer satisfaction, and cost effectiveness. Integral to the efficient operation of rail systems is the requirement for accurate, real-time position information of locomotives, rail cars, maintenance-of-way vehicles, and wayside equipment.

Most rail systems are comprised of long stretches of a single set of tracks. Trains bound for thousands of destinations must simultaneously share the use of these single line tracks. Thus, precise knowledge of where a train is located is essential to prevent collisions, maintain smooth flow of traffic, and minimize costly delays due to waiting for clearance for track use. Only the skill of the crews, accurate timing, a dynamic dispatching capability, and a critical array of “meet and passes” locations on short stretches of parallel tracks, allow rail dispatchers to guide their trains safely through. It is therefore critical for safety and efficiency reasons to know the position and performance of these trains both individually and system-wide.

GPS also contributes to dependable scheduling through train location awareness, enhancing connectivity with other modes of transportation, such as rail station to airport transfers.

Differential GPS is an essential element of the Positive Train Control (PTC) concept being adopted in many parts of the world. This concept involves providing precise railroad position information to sophisticated command and control systems to produce the best operating plan to include varying train speed, re-routing traffic, and safely moving maintenance crews onto and off tracks.


ENVIRONMENT

To sustain the Earth’s environment while balancing human needs requires better decision making with more up-to-date information.

Data collection systems provide decision makers with descriptive information and accurate positional data about items that are spread across many kilometers of terrain. By connecting position information with other types of data, it is possible to analyze many environmental problems from a new perspective. Position data collected through GPS can be imported into geographic information system (GIS) software, allowing spatial aspects to be analyzed with other information to create a far more complete understanding of a particular situation than might be possible through conventional means.

Aerial studies of some of the world’s most impenetrable wilderness are conducted with the aid of GPS technology to evaluate an area’s wildlife, terrain, and human infrastructure. By tagging imagery with GPS coordinates it is possible to evaluate conservation efforts and assist in strategy planning.

GPS technology supports efforts to understand and forecast changes in the environment. The proliferation of GPS tidal tracking sites, and improvement in estimating the vertical component of a site’s position from GPS measurements, present a unique opportunity to directly observe the effects of ocean tides.

GPS receivers mounted on buoys track the movement and spread of oil spills. Helicopters use GPS to map the perimeter of forest fires and allow efficient use of fire fighting resources.

The migratory patterns of endangered species, such as the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, are tracked and mapped using GPS, helping to preserve and enhance declining populations.

Another benefit to using GPS is timeliness with which critical products can be generated. Because GPS data are in a digital form available at all times and in all parts of the world, they can be captured and analyzed very quickly. This means that it is possible for analysis to be completed in hours or days rather than weeks or months, thus ensuring that the final product is timelier. With the rapid pace of change in the world today, these savings in time can be critical.


PUBLIC SAFETY & DISASTER RELIEF

A critical component of any successful rescue operation is time. Knowing the precise location of landmarks, streets, buildings, emergency service resources, and disaster relief sites reduces that time -- and saves lives. This information is critical to disaster relief teams and public safety personnel in order to protect life and reduce property loss. GPS serves as a facilitating technology in addressing these needs.

GPS has played a vital role in relief efforts for global disasters such as the tsunami that struck in the Indian Ocean region in 2004, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that wreaked havoc in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005. Search and rescue teams used GPS, geographic information system (GIS), and remote sensing technology to create maps of the disaster areas for rescue and aid operations, as well as to assess damage.

Another important area of disaster relief is in the management of wildfires. To contain and manage forest fires, aircraft combine GPS with infrared scanners to identify fire boundaries and “hot spots.” Within minutes, fire maps are transmitted to a portable field computer at the firefighters’ camp. Armed with this information, firefighters have a greater chance of winning the battle against the blaze.

In earthquake prone areas such as the Pacific Rim, GPS is playing an increasingly prominent role in helping scientists to anticipate earthquakes. Using the precise position information provided by GPS, scientists can study how strain builds up slowly over time in an attempt to characterize, and in the future perhaps anticipate, earthquakes.

Meteorologists responsible for storm tracking and flood prediction also rely on GPS. They can assess water vapor content by analyzing transmissions of GPS data through the atmosphere.

As the international industry positioning standard for use by emergency and other specialty vehicle fleets, GPS has given managers a quantum leap forward in efficient operation of their emergency response teams. The ability to effectively identify and view the location of police, fire, rescue, and individual vehicles or boats, and how their location relates to an entire network of transportation systems in a geographic area, has resulted in a whole new way of doing business. Location information provided by GPS, coupled with automation, reduces delay in the dispatch of emergency services.

Incorporation of GPS in mobile phones places an emergency location capability in the hands of everyday users. Today’s widespread placement of GPS location systems in passenger cars provides another leap in developing a comprehensive safety net. Today, many ground and maritime vehicles are equipped with autonomous crash sensors and GPS. This information, when coupled with automatic communication systems, enables a call for help even when occupants are unable to do so.


SURVEYING & MAPPING

Using the near pinpoint accuracy provided by GPS with ground augmentations, highly accurate surveying and mapping results can be rapidly obtained, thereby significantly reducing the amount of equipment and labor hours that are normally required of other conventional surveying and mapping techniques. Today it is possible for a single surveyor to accomplish in one day what used to take weeks with an entire team. GPS is unaffected by rain, wind, or reduced sunlight, and is rapidly being adopted by professional surveyors and mapping personnel throughout the world.

GPS provides accurate three-dimensional positioning information for natural and artificial features that can be displayed on maps and models of everything in the world - mountains, rivers, forests, endangered animals, precious minerals and many other resources. GPS position information for these features serves as a prime input to geographic information systems (GIS), that assemble, store, manipulate, and display geographically referenced information.

Unlike traditional techniques, GPS surveying is not bound by constraints such as line-of-sight visibility between reference stations. Also, the spacing between stations can be increased. The increased flexibility of GPS also permits survey stations to be established at easily accessible sites rather than being confined to hilltops as previously required.

Remote GPS systems may be carried by one person in a backpack, mounted on the roof of an automobile, or fastened atop an all-terrain vehicle to permit rapid and accurate field data collection. With a GPS radio communication link, real-time, continuous centimeter-level accuracy makes possible a productivity level that is virtually unattainable using optical survey instruments.


RECREATION

Outdoor exploration carries with it many intrinsic dangers, one of the most important of which is the potential for getting lost in unfamiliar or unsafe territory. Hikers, bicyclists, and outdoor adventurers are increasingly relying on GPS instead of traditional paper maps, compasses, or landmarks. Paper maps are often outdated, and compasses and landmarks may not provide the precise location information necessary to avoid venturing into unfamiliar areas. In addition, darkness and adverse weather conditions may also contribute to imprecise navigation results.

GPS technology coupled with electronic mapping has helped to overcome much of the traditional hardships associated with unbounded exploration. GPS handsets allow users to safely traverse trails with the confidence of knowing precisely where they are at all times, as well as how to return to their starting point. One of the benefits is the ability to record and return to waypoints. Similarly, fishermen typically use GPS signals as a means to continually stay apprised of location, heading, bearing, speed, distance-to-go, time-to-go, chart plotting functions, and most importantly, returning to a location where the fish are plentiful.

Image
Handheld GPS

An advantage in newer GPS receivers is the capability to transfer data to and from a computer. Outdoor enthusiasts can download waypoints from an exciting adventure and share them.

Golfers use GPS to measure precise distances within the course and improve their game. Other applications include skiing, as well as recreational aviation and boating.

GPS technology has generated entirely new sports and outdoor activities. An example of this is geocaching, a sport which rolls a pleasurable day’s outing and a treasure hunt into one. Another new sport is geodashing, a cross-country race to a predefined GPS coordinate.


Sources:

gps.gov
Wikipedia
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gemini
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Re: PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

Unread postby gemini » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:01 pm

Wow and all this time I just thought it was just for new cars to to us where we want to go. :grin:
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Liz
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Re: PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

Unread postby Liz » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:26 pm

Who knew? Obviously not me. :blush:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:31 pm

Oprah recently had an "expert" on her show, talking about men who cheat on their wives. He recommended putting a GPS tracking device under the husband's vehicle. :lol: No, seriously, he really meant it! :ohno: It has become a running joke between Mr. nebraska and myself.

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Re: PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

Unread postby Buster » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:13 am

"Physicist Clifford Will, who once briefed a U.S. Air Force general about the crucial corrections to the GPS coming from Einstein's theory of relativity, once commented that he knew that relativity theory had come of age when even senior Pentagon officials had to be briefed on it." (Kaku, p 257)

Ha!

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Re: PW Tidbit #12 ~ GPS

Unread postby Liz » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:55 pm

nebraska wrote:Oprah recently had an "expert" on her show, talking about men who cheat on their wives. He recommended putting a GPS tracking device under the husband's vehicle. :lol: No, seriously, he really meant it! :ohno: It has become a running joke between Mr. nebraska and myself.

Nebraska, I'm not sure if I think that is funny or not. :lol:

Buster, thanks for posting that quote. :cool: I remember chuckling at that when I read it. We will be asking a question about favorite quotes and anecdotes. I hope you all earmarked those.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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