In Part 1 of this two part series, we will learn the basics of how GPS works.
Satellite navigation systems emerged at the end of the 20th century. The first was the US version known as the Global Positioning System (GPS) which greatly improved the range and accuracy of a position fix when compared to previous navigation systems.
A constellation of satellites and ground control stations are at the heart of the system. Atomic clocks in satellites are synchronized by ground control stations that also monitor the satellite’s exact position. Satellites broadcast their orbital information allowing earth-bound receivers to triangulate their position. While straight forward in principle the implementation of the system is complex requiring advanced orbital mechanics and mathematics that is beyond the scope of this lecture. Basic orbital mechanics will be covered but the focus of the lecture will be the over-all description of the GPS system including its operation and limitations.