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How It Works

GPS receivers work by connecting to satellites orbiting the Earth as part of the global positioning system (GPS). The United States GPS system is actually just one example of what is known as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Another example of a GNSS is the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONAS), and a third, named GALILEO, is scheduled to begin service in 2008.

The United States GPS system uses a network of 24 satellites transmitting high-frequency radio signals that are picked up by the handheld GPS receiver. Because these satellites are distributed around the world, any receiver will typically pick up just a few of these signals, but enough to determine an accurate positional fix for the user.


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