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The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been in operation for several years, and its use is continually rising. GPS is the main satellite navigation system developed by the United States. There are countless applications of this technology, and numerous international efforts are currently underway.

The Topcon Positioning Systems company provides an excellent introduction to GPS technology in its online book (1). The first couple chapters describe the evolution of GPS and its fundamentals, and the remaining material focuses on some specific issues. A more advanced tutorial is given through the IBM Web site (2). A brief, free registration is required to view it, and some familiarity with Java is recommended. The European Space Agency provides this page about satellite navigation (3), which describes, among other things, Galileo. This is not the astronomer; Galileo is Europe's version of GPS, scheduled for completion in 2008. Another system, developed by Russia, is detailed on the Space and Technology Web site (4). The short summary describes the 20-year history of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), as well as upgrades that are in progress. Differential GPS, a service that is more accurate than standard GPS in areas with poor coverage, is operated by the US Coast Guard Navigation Center (5). Some information about the status of nationwide DGPS expansion is given. Several research and development projects, technology highlights, and GPS implementations are covered on the UNAVCO home page (6). The facility primarily fosters work to expand the applications of satellite navigation. With the wave of kidnapping cases reported across the country, a novel use of GPS is being marketed to keep track of children (7). These portable devices can be worn on the wrist, like a watch, so parents can always know where their kids are. Another news story describes the use of GPS in mining operations (8). The technology allows operators of huge three-story dump trucks to detect obstacles and maneuver the vehicle with only limited visibility.

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Date Issued 2002
Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2002-08-30
Archived Scout Publication URL

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