Have you ever been lost in the woods? Have you ever wanted to go back to that great fishing spot but can’t remember where it was? Have you ever found yourself wandering aimlessly in an unfamiliar part of the city having to ask people for directions? It happens more often than we would like that we find ourselves taking a wrong turn, and taking twice as long to find our way back. Well luckily, there is the perfect tool to guide us safely: It’s called Global Positioning System.
But do you know how it really works?Short for Global Positioning System, GPS (Global Positioning System) is basically a modern day compass and more. It can store maps and locations, guide you to your destination, and even measure your speed as you travel down the interstate. It has even helped explorers find their way through the deep rain forests of the Amazon.
When was GPS developed? GPS is a satellite-based, radio-navigation system developed in the early ‘70s by the U.S. Department of Defense. Initially, ground-based pseudo-satellites were used for testing. Because it worked so well during development, the first GPS satellite was launched into orbit in 1978. GPS was intended to be a purely military tool, but after a civilian airliner was shot down over Soviet territory in 1983, President Ronald Reagan declassified the GPS project and opened it for civilian use.
This decision has saved countless lives during natural disasters and expeditions that have taken a turn for the worst.
GPS is used for land, sea, and airborne navigation as well as surveying, geophysical exploration, mapping and geodesy, vehicle location systems, and any other applications that may need location information.
The most common use for GPS is navigation. In-car navigation systems use GPS to guide you around the city or through unfamiliar territory. It can suggest the best route from point A to point B, giving you turn-by-turn directions. Some can detect where you’ve deviated from the suggested course and recalculate another route to bring you to your destination. There are versions specifically designed for maritime as well as airborne use. GPS has helped ships navigate around icebergs and other vessels, ensuring passengers and cargo a safe trip to their destinations.
Handheld GPS receivers work similarly, but are usually designed for recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, just to name a few. Although hand-help navigation products like Garmin and TomTom are now very popular.
GPS has been an essential part of expeditions through Amazon rain forests to exploring the frigid Arctic. It has helped plot safe routes and mark danger zones for the safety of other explorers…