History of GPS
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Measuring the movement of glaciers & volcanoes, detecting the location of icebergs, preventing transportation accidents, assisting search and rescue efforts, and hastening the delivery of emergency services and disaster relief has become easier as never before. The successful application of GPS technology has influenced all our lives in a distinct manner. GPS has changed the way people live and communicate. Its applications fall into categories such as timing, mapping, vehicle tracking, navigation, location etc.
Let us walk through the major milestones of GPS technology.
The History of GPS Technology
Raytheon Company created the technology used in GPS when United States Air Force acknowledged the need of an accurate guidance system. In 1960, Dr.Ivan Getting, a scientist who worked with the Raytheon Company left his position and started developing Global Positioning System. Getting developed the concept of three-dimensional GPS along with a group of scientists and aerospace engineers.
In 1957, the former U.S.S.R launched its first ever satellite, ‘Sputnik’ amidst the space race and cold war that was hitting the country. U.S scientists started observing Sputnik and realized the fact that the satellite’s orbit can be traced listening to the changes in its radio frequency using the Doppler Effect. Actually Doppler Effect was previously used to explain why the pitch of a car’s horn alters due to the change in its speed.
In 1960, using the information and knowledge acquired from tracking Sputnik, the U.S Navy launched TRANSIT, the first satellite navigational system to assist the process of guiding the Navy’s fleet of ballistic missile submarines.
Later in 1967, Timation technique was developed by U.S Navy. This system used a highly consistent, synchronized clock in the satellite, a technique on which GPS is dependent. The first atomic clocks were put into orbit by 1974.
The development happened gradually and U.S Military was credited with launching the first four GPS satellites by the end of 1978. GPS Technology was accessible for U.S military only until the necessity arose to extend its use to civilians in 1983.This was due to the repercussions of a tragedy which occurred at that time. A civilian Korean Airplane with 269 passengers mistakenly entered Soviet airspace and was shot down, killing all passengers on board. A tragic incident indeed!
In response to this woeful incident, a directive was issued by President Ronald Reagan, providing free access of GPS Technology throughout the world.
The first modern satellite was launched on Feb. 14, 1989 and the global positioning system was finished by July 17,1995 .
Features of this system
It consists of a constellation of twenty four 2,000-pound satellites and each move all the way round the world from 12,000 miles above the earth once every 12 hours. The satellites transmit their location and the exact time the signal was broadcasted to earth via radio signals and by gathering this information from four or more satellite’s signals, GPS receivers can determine their own speed, location, and elevation with great perfection – usually within a few meters or even less.
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