The Satellite System

GPS Satellites (GNSS – Global Navigation Satellite System)

  • employs the doppler shift to assess orbit
  • the “constellation”of NAVSTAR satellites is managed by the Air Force
  • 31 satellites currently in multiple orbital planes
    Where are they now? Use the satellite program from the Remote Sensing pages or this one below
    – – realtime WAAS map here (FAA)
  • each satellite orbits every 12 hours moving 4 minutes earlier each day
  • maintain at least 4 satellites overhead (>15 degrees above horizon) at all times (how high is the orbit?)
  • 4 atomic clocks with precision greater than 10^-9 (?general relativity )
  • GLONASS – the Russian GNSS, Galileo – European Union, and  BeiDou (big dipper) – China are the other systems.
  • PLUS other satellites to broadcast information (and corrections) about current location and operation of the network to ground and airborne users.