amazing GPS facts

23 Short GPS Facts to Truly Blow Your Mind

The need for an accurate way for navigating all around the world has been recorded in early history.

Back in the day, people were using a compass, radio as well as the stars to get to a proper navigation. In fact, the moon and the stars were the closest to modern GPS systems.

In the foreground, the Global Positioning System, which is also known as GPS, rapidly became an integral part of everyday lives.

Nowadays the development of the GPS has widened up its application far beyond traveling to particular areas up to gaming. GPS facts show us a crystal clear picture that it is a well advanced technological tool that we use it for everything that we can.

So, let’s read and learn few GPS facts that will truly blow your mind!

How The GPS System Works

All objects on the earth can be located accurately with the help of a GPS receiver.

But, how does the GPS receiver works?

So, it goes like this – the GPS system is connected and uses minimum 24 satellites. These satellites are continuously circling around the Earth. Speaking about that, I must mention as well the fact that each satellite orbits the earth at least 2 times a day.


Moreover, GPS devices are orbiting in 6 different orbit paths. These orbit paths are helping the GPS receivers to provide a continuous signal to the Earth.

In the first place, the GPS system in order to provide accurate information it should receive at least signal from 4 satellites.

The data that the receiver is obtaining from each satellite is used to calculate:

  • Latitude;
  • Elevation on Earth;
  • Longitude;

By that GPS satellites are sending out GPS time data and the location data with the help of radio waves.


Furthermore, the GPS satellites are being maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – by the United States Coast Guard.

Here is a very interesting fact – there are more than 30 satellites that make the GPS system, nevertheless only 27 satellites are operating at all times.

1. Ability to Know One’s Position

The very first NAVSTAR – that is to say Navigation Satellite Timing and Ranging was launched in the Global Positioning System – GPS on February 22. 1978.

This technologically advanced step has put one hazard of the human existence away- which is to get geographically lost.

The Navigation Satellite Timing and Ranging is enabling GPS users to determine their location with a high degree of accuracy.


To continue with, the GPS solution as previously said- is a satellite-based navigation system that consists out of three segments: space, ground, and user.

So, these three segments are being run by a military organization called- the United States Space Command.

The location of this military organization is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Additionally, the command of the United States Space Command is composed of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the USAF. They are the ones responsible for both space and ground operations.

2. Components of the System

The GPS System is composed of a satellite navigation system.

This system consists of the following three segments:

  • Space;
  • Control;
  • User;

To start with the space component. This component consists of around 31 GPS Satellites. Yet, at any given moment there are 24 satellites that are operational in a specially designed orbit. Moreover, the aim of these satellites is to ensure that the satellites are in view at the same time from any point on earth.


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On the other hand, we have the second space component- it is the control segment. This segment is composed of a series of ground stations. These ground stations are used in the process of interpretation and reliability of the satellite signals. In general, the ground stations include the following points:

  • Alternative master control station;
  • 12 ground antennas;
  • Master control station;
  • 16 monitoring stations;

To continue with the third component- which is the user segment. The user segment is the does involve various receivers from all different types of industries. That is to say, there can be GPS users from:

  • National security;
  • Surveying;
  • Mapping;
  • Space;
  • Agriculture and so on;

3. How Positions Are Determined

The key to determine the positions on Earth is the actual distance to the satellite and its range.

In regards to the time, it can be related to the following formula:

  • Range Velocity Time– the range is the actual distance from the receiver to the satellite, whereas on the other hand, the velocity equals the speed of the light and the time that it takes to synchronize the satellite signal with the receiver;

Yet, the key to measuring the range remains to be the accurate timing. Provided that the accurate timing is being provided by the atomic clocks.



Generally speaking, the earth has three dimensions, which means that we would have the need of only three satellites to cover our area. Especially, it is the case when it comes to calculating 2D positions- that include the latitude and the longitude.

In addition, if the user has the need of 3D positioning the GPS will have the need of four or even more satellites.

Yet, why is there a need for more satellites? Why four?

Well, there is a need for more satellites so that it can determine the right intersect.

Nonetheless, I must not forget the GPS receiver clock.

So, once the satellites do their job, straight proportionally the GPS unit will be in the position to calculate all information. Starting with speed information, trip distance, as well as distance to destination.

All in all, we can see that the GPS position determination is based on a concept termed time of arrival ranging.

4. There are a total of 31 Satellites

The total number of Satellites that enable the GPS tracking device to work count to 31.

In addition, it includes 2 reserve satellites.



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