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Introducing the Global Positioning System
Chris Rizos

Background .....................................................................................................96 7.1.1 Space Segment .................................................................................... 98 7.1.2 Control Segment ............................................................................... 100 7.1.3 User Segment .................................................................................... 102 Absolute Positioning .......................................................... 103 Relative Positioning ........................................................... 104 7.2 Issue of GPS Datums .................................................................................... 104 7.2.1 WGS84 Datum .................................................................................. 104 7.2.2 The International Terrestrial Reference Frame ................................ 105 7.3 The Performance of GPS .............................................................................. 106 7.3.1 Factors Influencing GPS Accuracy ................................................... 106 Biases and Errors ............................................................... 106 Absolute and Relative Positioning ..................................... 107 Other Factors Influencing Accuracy .................................. 107 7.3.2 Accuracy versus Positioning Mode .................................................. 108 7.4 High-Precision GPS Positioning................................................................... 110 7.4.1 GPS in Support of Geospatial Applications ..................................... 110 7.4.2 Using GPS in the Field ..................................................................... 111 7.4.3 GPS Competitiveness........................................................................ 112 References .............................................................................................................. 113 The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) system designed, financed, deployed, and operated by the U.S. Department of Defense (PNT 2009), and for which applications have burgeoned since the system was declared fully operational in 1995. The attractions of GPS as a PNT technology include: • High positioning accuracy, ranging from meters down to the millimeter level. • The capability of determining velocity and time, to an accuracy commensurate with position. • No intervisibility of GPS ground stations is required for high-accuracy positioning.


Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology

• Results are obtained with reference to a single, global datum. • Position information is provided in three dimensions. • Signals are available to users anywhere on or above the earth—in the air, in space, on the ground, or at sea. • There are no user charges. • Relatively low-cost user hardware. • An all-weather system, available 24 h a day. GPS has also revolutionized the fields of geodesy, surveying, and mapping, commencing with its introduction to the civilian community in the early 1980s. Indeed, among the first users were geodetic surveyors who applied GPS to the task of surveying primary control networks that form the basis of all map data and digital databases. Today, around the world, GPS is unchallenged as the quintessential technology for such geodetic applications. However, as a result of user equipment and algorithmic innovations over the last two decades, GPS technology is increasingly addressing the precise positioning needs of cadastral, engineering, environmental, planning, and geographic information system (GIS) surveys, as well a range of precise land, air, and marine navigation applications. Over the next 5–10 years, several other satellite-based navigation systems will be deployed. These will augment the current (and upgraded) GPS, providing users with access to significantly more satellite signals than is currently the case. Nowadays the phrase Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is used as an umbrella term for all current and future global, satellite-based, radio-navigation systems. Although GPS is currently the only fully operational GNSS, the Russian Federation’s GLONASS is undergoing replenishment and will be fully operational by 2010, it is planned that the European Union’s GALILEO will be deployed and be operational by 2013, and China’s COMPASS is also likely to join the “GNSS Club” by the middle of the next decade. The focus of Part II of this book, however, is on the current GPS, with occasional reference to the incomplete GLONASS constellation and how it is used in combination with GPS in specialist GPS + GLONASS receivers. The acronym “GNSS” will therefore be mostly used in Chapter 15, where the future of GPS/GNSS will be discussed.



The development work on GPS commenced within the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973, and full operational capability was declared on July 17, 1995— the milestone reached when 24 satellites were transmitting navigation signals. The objective was to design and deploy an all-weather, 24 h, global, satellitebased navigation system to support the positioning requirements of the U.S. armed forces and its allies. For a background to the development of the GPS, the reader is referred to Parkinson (1994). GPS was intended to replace the large number of navigational systems already in use, and great importance was placed on the system’s reliability and survivability. Therefore, a number of stringent conditions had to be met:

Introducing the Global Positioning System 97 • Suitable for all military platforms: aircraft (jet to helicopter to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)). • Use low-cost. and the number of functioning satellites steadily decreased to less than 10. whether intentional and unintentional. the then Soviet Union deployed 24 GLONASS satellites. At about the same time GPS was declared fully operational. as well as other terrestrial navigation systems. • The positioning results were to be available on a single. The abbreviation GLONASS is derived from the Russian “Global’naya Navigatsion-naya Sputnikovaya Sistema” (HofmannWellenhof et al. the Russian Federation is rebuilding GLONASS (Section 15. and computational techniques that are available to users . global.1): • The space segment: satellites and transmitted signals • The control segment: ground facilities carrying out the task of satellite tracking. (2008). which has added significantly to the versatility of the GPS. from those satisfied with navigational accuracies (of the order of 10 m or so—dekameters). land (vehicle-mounted to handheld). Texts dealing extensively with the high-precision GPS surveying techniques include Leick (2004) and Hofmann-Wellenhof et al. the Russian Federation initially struggled to find sufficient funds to maintain GLONASS. • Resistant to jamming. GPS is able to support a variety of positioning and measurement modes in order to simultaneously address the requirements of a wide range of users. • A real-time positioning. low-power user hardware. and supervision necessary for routine operations • The user segment: the applications. Any discussion of the GPS technology and its applications starts with the identification of the three components (Figure 7. • A passive positioning system that did not require transmission of signals by the user. and time (PVT) determination capability to an appropriate level of accuracy. 2008). • Able to handle a wide range of platform dynamics. However. orbit computation. What was unforeseen by the system designers was the power of commercial product innovation. geodetic datum. For example. • The highest accuracy was to be restricted to the military user. GPS has now so penetrated certain application areas that it is difficult to imagine life without it! Part II of this book is not intended to be a comprehensive textbook on the GPS technology and its applications. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. equipment.1). telemetry. but in particular as a system for precise positioning. ships (of all sizes). Excellent general references to the engineering aspects of GPS are Kaplan and Hegarty (2006) and Parkinson and Spilker (1996). velocity. and space-based vehicles (missiles and satellites). • Incorporating redundancy mechanisms to ensure the survivability of the system. • A replacement for the transit satellite system. to those demanding very high (even sub-centimeter) positioning accuracies. • Able to provide the positioning service to an unlimited number of users. satellite clock behavior and system monitoring.5.

the satellite . 7.1 GPS elements. the orbital plane and position within the plane. and do not necessarily improve availability in challenging signal environments such as urban. The last of this 11 satellite series was launched in 1985. some of the original “Block IIR” series were modernized with new civilian and military signals. The basic functions of the GPS satellites are to • Receive and store data uploaded by the control segment • Maintain accurate time by means of an onboard atomic clock • Transmit information and signals to users on two microwave frequencies Several constellations of GPS satellites have already been deployed. as well as transmitting a third civilian frequency. were launched from 1989 onward. Note that all plans to date call for a 24 satellite constellation size.98 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology Space segment User segment Control segment FIGURE 7. the so-called Block II and Block IIA satellites. Under the GPS Modernization program (see Section 15.” and extra satellites beyond the nominal 24 occupy the same slots as functioning satellites. The status of the current GPS satellite constellation. There are at present 12 orbiting “Block IIR” satellites. and these eight satellites are now known as the “Block IIR-M” series. or forested areas. The “Block IIR” satellites are the replenishment constellation.1 SPACE SEGMENT The space segment consists of the constellation of spacecraft—and the signals that are broadcast by them—which allow users to determine PVT. and several more are planned. The operational constellation of GPS satellites. The “Block IIF” follow-on satellite series are planned for launch from 2010 onward with similar enhancements as the “Block IIR-M” satellites. with the first launched in 1997.1. That is. The first experimental satellite of the so-called Block I constellation was launched in February 1978. mountainous.4). there are 24 orbital “slots. and such details as the launch and official commissioning date of each GPS satellite.

(At the time of writing. at any unobstructed site on the earth. the number of satellites and the length of time they are . the satellites are in the same position in the sky about 4 min earlier each day. the GPS constellation consists of 31 satellites transmitting navigation signals. At various times of the day.. can be computed using mission planning tools provided with standard GPS surveying software as well as satellite visibility tools on the Internet. so that each satellite makes two revolutions in one “sidereal” day (the period taken for the earth to complete one rotation about its axis with respect to the stars). A GPS satellite may be above an observer’s horizon for many hours. can be obtained from the U. at any time of the day. number(s). a nominal constellation of 24 GPS satellites.2).S. and for any time period.200 km. • Reckoned in terms of a solar day (24 h in length). • At the end of a sidereal day. perhaps 6–7 h or more in the one pass.D.2 The GPS constellation “birdcage” showing the nominal 24 orbiting satellites. etc.) As GPS satellites are in nearly circular orbits: • Their orbital period is approximately 11 h 58 min.Introducing the Global Positioning System 99 FIGURE 7. is sufficient to ensure that there will be at least four satellites visible. the satellites are again over the same location on the earth. Coast Guard Navigation Center (NavCen 2009). and at various locations on the surface of the earth. located in six orbital planes inclined at about 63° to the equator (Figure 7. I. At an altitude of approximately 20. The satellite visibility at any point on the earth.

there are nevertheless occasional periods of degraded satellite coverage. Table 7. and whether they are wet or dry).3). 7. (Two signals at different frequencies permit the ionospheric delay effect on the signal raypaths to be estimated— see Section 9.3. tracking. Each orbiting GPS satellite—of the Block IIA/IIR/IIR-M generations—transmits unique navigational signals centered on two L-band frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum: L1 at 1575. such as the type and the density of leaves and branches. or reflected by surfaces (causing multipath— Section 8.42 MHz and L2 at 1227.1 summarizes the GPS requirements and their corresponding implications on the signal characteristics. Diego Garcia.S. the stringent performance requirements of GPS are responsible for the complicated nature of the GPS signal structure. made worse if there are sky obstructions preventing the signals of some of the satellites above the horizon not being trackable— though naturally their frequency and duration will increase if some of the satellites fail.) At these two frequencies. the poorer is the satellite geometry with respect to the user on the ground.6. Colorado Springs. The U. In reality.1. the measurement process is more complex and the measurement is contaminated by a variety of biases and errors (Langley 1991b.60 MHz. telemetry.5. Although for positioning and timing the function of the GPS signal is quite straightforward. Ascension Island. Clouds are easily penetrated.1—thus improving measurement accuracy. satellite clock error parameters. and satellite orbit and clock error computations. a measure of the quality of receiver-satellite geometry (see Section 9.2 CONTROL SEGMENT The control segment consists of facilities necessary for satellite health monitoring. 1993)—see mathematical model in Section 8. “Degraded satellite coverage” is typically defined in terms of the magnitude of the Dilution of Precision (DOP) value. and Kwajalein—which perform the following functions: . The higher the DOP value. The navigation message contains the satellite orbit (or ephemeris) information.1. Although at certain times of the day there may be as many as 14 satellites visible simultaneously.2). The transit time when multiplied by the speed of light then gives a measure of the receiver-satellite “range” or distance.2. The current GPS satellite signals have the following components: • Two L-band carrier waves • Ranging codes modulated on the carrier waves using a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) scheme • Navigation message The primary function of the ranging codes is to permit the signal transit time (from the satellite to the receiver) to be determined. Air Force operates six ground facility stations—Hawaii. and the pertinent general system information necessary for real-time navigation to be performed. the signals are highly directional and can be reflected or blocked by solid objects. command and control.100 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology above an observer’s horizon will vary. but the signals may be blocked by foliage (the extent of this is dependent on a number of factors. Florida.

It is also the station that initiates all operations of the space segment. satellite clock-keeping. signals from several satellites have to be simultaneously observed by a single user Each signal has to have a unique code. The resultant tracking data is sent to the Master Control Station (MCS). signal encryption. . in which the military code has to be encrypted to prevent unauthorized use Requires a unique code structure Uses spread spectrum modulation technique Provide range measurements at two frequencies. where the tracking data are processed in order to compute the satellite ephemerides (or coordinates) and satellite clock error parameters. so the receiver can differentiate different signals coming from different satellites Signal has to provide data for the user to estimate its range to the observed satellite in real time Signal has to enable time delay measurement by the user Signal has to provide the ephemeris data in real time to the user Ephemeris data is included in a broadcast message Signals have to provide two levels of accuracy for time delay measurements One code for the military and a different set of codes for civilian users Signal has to carry the two codes Signal has to support the “AS” policy. There are an additional eight upload stations in the Air Force Space Command Network. equipped with GPS receivers to track the satellites.. • Four of the stations (Colorado Springs. Diego Garcia.Introducing the Global Positioning System 101 TABLE 7. allowing for the compensation of the ionospheric refraction effect Require carrier waves with centimeter wavelengths GPS has to provide real-time positioning and navigation capability for the users GPS has to serve both military and civilian users GPS signal has to be impervious to jamming GPS can be used for precise positioning • All six stations are monitor stations. and so on. and Kwajalein) are Upload Stations through which data is telemetered to the satellites. Ascension Is. • Colorado Springs (Shriever AFB) is the MCS.1 GPS Requirements and the Nature of GPS Signal System Requirements GPS has to be a multiuser system Implication on GPS Signals Signals can be simultaneously observed by unlimited numbers of users Accomplished by one-way measurement to passively listening users Signal has to have a relatively wide spatial coverage At a certain epoch. such as spacecraft maneuvering. An additional 10 globally distributed monitor stations operated by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) have recently been incorporated into an upgraded control segment.

Naval Observatory. form factor and power consumption. The behavior of each GPS satellite clock is monitored against GPS Time. and data processing techniques that are now possible. The computation of each satellite’s ephemeris (Section 8. The satellite clock bias. equipment. data processing algorithms. As a result.S. Chapter 9 discusses the various measurement models and data processing strategies. the user applications. and operational procedures or requirements. software. Due to random deviations—even cesium and rubidium oscillators are not entirely predictable—the deterministic models of satellite clock error are only accurate to about a few nanoseconds for the best-performing satellites. and this accuracy degrades with the age of the satellite clocks. Chapter 11 describes various GPS techniques. Chapter 10 introduces the hardware issues.102 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology Each of the upload stations views all of the satellites at least once per day. The accuracy with which the orbit is predicted is typically at the few meters level. and new navigation messages as well as command telemetry can be transmitted to GPS satellites on a regular basis. what is available to users is really a prediction of the clock behavior into the future. Operational and data processing techniques therefore have had to be developed to account for this residual range bias that remains after correction for the broadcast satellite clock error. and Chapters 12 and 13 deal with the planning and field operations of relevance to precise GPS positioning.3.1. The product of the orbit computation process at the MCS is each satellite’s predicted ephemeris. This is not precise enough for range measurements that must satisfy the requirements of centimeterlevel accuracy GPS positioning. and continues to this day. reliability. and drift-rate relative to GPS time are determined at the same time as the estimation of the satellite ephemeris. the GPS equipment refers to the combination of hardware.1) and the determination of each satellite’s clock errors (Section 8.3 USER SEGMENT This is the component of the GPS with which users are most concerned—the space and control segments are largely transparent. operational constraints. Of interest is the range of GPS user applications. 7. drift. while the latter permits a significant distance measurement bias to be reduced.2) are the most important tasks of the control segment. All satellites are therefore in contact with an upload station several times a day. expressed in the reference system most appropriate for positioning: an earth-centered-earth-fi xed (ECEF) reference system known as WGS84 (Chapter 3). as maintained by an ensemble of atomic clocks at the MCS. New applications are being continually identified. without doubt. aligned in turn to the master clocks of the U. each with its unique requirements in terms of accuracy. In this context. the GPS user equipment has undergone tremendous development. However.3. and so on. The engine of commercial GPS product development is. user hardware. latency of GPS results. The first is necessary because GPS satellites function as “orbiting control stations” and their coordinates must be known to a high accuracy. . positioning strategies. The measured satellite clock error is made available to all GPS users via clock error coefficients in a polynomial form broadcast in the navigation message.

the coordinate origin of the coordinate system is the geocenter. 2. although the actual accuracy depends on a number of other factors as well.3. However.Introducing the Global Positioning System 103 While military R&D has concentrated on achieving a high degree of miniaturization.6. but require more complex data processing in order to obtain centimeter-level positioning accuracy. 9. This is particularly true of the surveyor. whether it is based on single-receiver techniques. and the axes of the system are defined in a conventional manner as in ECEF systems such as WGS84 and International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS) . In some respects. modularization. in particular higher accuracy. from the earliest days of GPS availability. or in terms of defining the position of one receiver relative to another that is located at a known position. and those applications in which the receiver is moving (or in the so-called kinematic mode) The different GPS positioning modes and data processing strategies are all essentially designed to account for biases (or systematic errors) in GPS measurements to different levels of accuracy (Sections 7. In this regard. the most important from the perspective of geospatial applications are: • Accuracy.1. the reference system must be rigorously defined and maintained. data processing techniques. the commercial equipment manufacturers have. there are two aspects of GPS that fundamentally influence the entire user segment—the user equipment. on the one hand.3. and 9.4).4). Another major influence on the development of the GPS equipment has been the increasing variety of civilian applications. Civilian users have. In general.3. whether GPS results are required in real time. and reliability. There is.1 Absolute Positioning In this mode of positioning. They are: 1. or may be derived from post-mission data processing • Dynamics. 7. and faster results. The type of measurement that is used for the positioning solution (Sections 8. Relative positioning is the standard mode of operation if accuracies higher than a few meters are required. improved reliability. demanded increasing levels of performance.2 and 8. and operational (field) procedures. sought to bring down costs and to develop features that enhance the capabilities of the positioning system. and total reliance is placed on the integrity of coordinated points that realize the datum. distinguishing between static receiver positioning. Although it is possible to categorize positioning applications according to many criteria. which leads to a differentiation of the GPS user equipment and techniques into several subclasses • Timeliness. 8. the basic satellite-to-receiver range measurement with a precision typically at the few meter level. the GPS user equipment development is being driven by the precise positioning applications—in much the same way that automotive technology often benefits from car racing. seeking levels of accuracy several orders of magnitude higher than that of the navigator. in addition. These have measurement noise at the millimeter level. The mode of positioning. for high-accuracy applications carrier phase measurements must be used.

the positioning accuracy approaches that of the measurement precision itself. Combining data from two GPS receivers is an effective way of eliminating or mitigating the effects of unmodeled measurement biases.4). the coordinates of a GPS receiver in an absolute sense are determined to a much lower accuracy than the precision of the measurements themselves. (Chapter 3. In this case. the position vector of the ground station is determined. 7.2. Satellite single-point positioning (SPP) (Section 9.2 ISSUE OF GPS DATUMS Chapter 3.3. as discussed in the following text.3 The baseline linking two simultaneously observing GPS receivers. Data processing techniques such as those implemented for GPS surveying are essentially concerned with the determination of the baseline vector (Figure 7. It is the datum to which all GPS positioning information is referred by virtue of being the reference datum of the .3) (Section 9. as for example the Satellite Laser Ranging technique. Some space geodesy technologies can determine the absolute position of a ground station to a very high accuracy.1. NGA as a global geodetic datum (WGS84 2000). In this section.2 Relative Positioning Conceptually. and hence largely cancel from the baseline components —the vector linking the reference receiver to the user receiver.104 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology line B a se ∆Z ∆Y ∆X FIGURE 7. because it is not possible to fully account for the effects of measurement biases. There are different ways in which such differential positioning can be implemented using GPS. introduced the concept of datums and geodetic systems. 7. However. and Section 7.3) is the process by which given the position vector of the satellite (in the global system) and a set of measurements from one ground tracking station to the satellite (or satellites) being tracked. expressed in a local reference system with origin at one of the ground stations.1 WGS84 DATUM The World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84) is defined and maintained by the U.2). the relative position is the difference between the two position vectors (in the global system). the geodetic reference systems are discussed from the viewpoint of GPS positioning.S. Most of the error in absolute position are common to both sets of coordinates (due to similar biases on all simultaneous GPS measurements). 7.

Introducing the Global Positioning System 105 broadcast GPS satellite ephemerides (Langley 1991a). and the continuous computation of the satellite ephemerides. and the result is generally a small refinement in the datum definition. In 1994. They fulfill the same function as national control benchmarks. and transformation models have been developed. Very Long Baseline Interferometry. earth orientation parameters. Routine operations commenced at the beginning of 1994 and the network now consists of several hundred GPS tracking stations located around the world. via the Internet. to promote and support activities such as the maintenance of a permanent network of GPS tracking stations. the GPS reference system underwent a subtle change to WGS84(G730) to bring it into alignment with the same system as used by the International GNSS Service (IGS) to generate its precise GPS ephemerides. with dramatically improving tracking accuracies another phenomenon impacts on datum definition and its maintenance: the motion of the tectonic plates across the earth’s surface (or “continental drift”). the International Association of Geodesy established the first of its space geodesy services. The relationships between WGS84 (as well as other global datums) and local geodetic datums have been determined empirically (WGS84 2000).2 THE INTERNATIONAL TERRESTRIAL REFERENCE FRAME Since the mid-1980s geodesists have been using GPS to measure crustal motion. These surveys required coordinated tracking by GPS receivers spread over a wide region during the period of GPS survey campaigns. The realization of the WGS84 satellite datum is the set of coordinates of the monitor stations within the GPS control segment. satellite clock error. with varying delays—though some products are predicted into the future. which included the computation of the GPS satellite orbits. The reference system is known as the ITRS. However. and a change in the numerical values of the coordinates of benchmarks. and to define more precise satellite datums. The precise orbits of the GPS satellites (and other products) are available from the IGS at no charge. This motion is measured in centimeters per year. The latter were essentially by-products of the sophisticated data processing. they provide the means by which a position can be related to a datum. and GPS coordinate results (although nowadays it is the GPS . the “International GPS Service for Geodynamics” (nowadays the acronym “IGS” stands for the “International GNSS Service”). The definition of the reference frame in which the coordinates of the IGS tracking stations are expressed and periodically redetermined is the responsibility of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS 2009). for various reasons. and its definition and maintenance is dependent on a suitable combination of Satellite Laser Ranging. ground station coordinates. to WGS84(G873) (WGS84 2000). that is. Reference systems are periodically redefined.2. Little interest was shown in these alternative datums until the network of tracking stations evolved into a global one that was maintained on a permanent basis. on a global annual-average basis. Nowadays this motion can be monitored and measured to sub-centimeter accuracy. In 1991. with the fastest rates being over 10 cm/year. and the scientific community initiated a project to define and maintain a datum at the highest level of accuracy. Another small change was made in 1996. and other quantities (IGS 2009). 7.

A further characteristic that distinguishes the ITRS series of datums is that the definition consists of not only the station coordinates but also their velocities (due to the continental and regional tectonic motion). Unique to a particular (receiver-satellite) range or carrier phase observation 7.” such as. a policy of the U. because productivity is closely related to the number of points that can be surveyed per day. or too long.S. at an instant in time. VLBI. there are a number of measures of performance.3.3 THE PERFORMANCE OF GPS As far as users are concerned. the more productive is the GPS. However.106 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology system that provides most of this data) —see Section 3. the most common measure of performance is the positioning accuracy.” which is referred to as “ITRFyy. GPS biases have one of the following characteristics: 1. by applying the velocity information and predicting the coordinates of the station at any time into the future (or the past). The less time required to collect observations. and the resulting new coordinates of SLR. say ITRF2005 (ITRF2005 2009). for example. Affect all measurements made by a receiver by an equal (or similar) amount 2.2. all distances being measured either too short. Hence.0.1. For example.1 FACTORS INFLUENCING GPS ACCURACY Biases and errors affect all GPS measurements. and GPS tracking stations constitute a new International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) or “ITRF datum. government imposed on March 25. at some epoch such as the year 2010. 1990 and finally revoked on May 1. Errors may be considered synonymous to internal instrument noise or random errors. SA was a bias that caused all distances from a particular satellite. it is possible to determine station coordinates within the datum. 2000 (OoP 2000).1. Another measure of performance might be the maximum distance between two GPS receivers that would still assure a certain level of accuracy. The magnitude of . Affect all measurements made to a particular satellite by an equal (or similar) amount 3. to be in error by up to several tens of meters. In the case of GPS. a very significant bias was selective availability (SA). Every so often a new combination of precise tracking results is performed. how many observations are required to assure a certain level of accuracy is one measure that is important for survey-type applications. 7. Biases. the WGS84(G730) reference frame is identical to that of ITRF91 at epoch 1994. 7.” where yy is the computation year identifier.3.1 Biases and Errors Their combined magnitude will affect the accuracy of the positioning results. For example. may be defined as being those measurement errors that cause true ranges to be different from measured ranges by a “systematic amount. on the other hand.

on the other hand. Higher accuracies are possible if the relative position of two GPS receivers. satellite or receiver dependency. any error in these values (as well as the presence of other biases) will directly affect the quality of the position determination. There are different implementations of relative positioning procedures but all share the characteristic that the position of the GPS receiver of interest is derived relative to another fixed reference receiver whose absolute coordinates are assumed to be known. simultaneously tracking the same satellites. Clearly repeat observations at a static benchmark permit an improvement in precision due to the effect of averaging over time. station coordinates. based on differencing the carrier phase data from the two receivers. A moving GPS receiver does not offer this possibility and the accuracy is dependent on single-epoch processing.1). Biases may have physical bases. 7. Measurements on two frequencies simultaneously is the best means by which a significant measurement bias—the ionospheric refraction delay—can be accounted for (Section 9. The fi rst is absolute or point positioning.4). is the standard mode for precise GPS techniques (Section 8.3 Other Factors Influencing Accuracy GPS accuracy is also dependent on a host of other operational and algorithmic factors: • Whether the user is moving or stationary.1. Biases must be accounted for in the measurement model used for data processing if high accuracy is sought. The satellite-receiver geometry will also influence the error propagation into the GPS positioning results (see Section 9. Because many errors will affect the absolute position of two or more GPS users to almost the same extent.3). One of these implementations. and so on. does affect positioning accuracy as it prevents civilian users access to the second GPS signal frequency (L2) on Block IIA and IIR satellites. and is often referred to as SPP. and hence it is useful to assemble under the heading of “errors” all random measurement process effects. periodicity.1. as well as any unmodeled biases that remain after any data reduction. in an unpredictable manner. but may also enter at the data processing stage through imperfect knowledge of constants. Residual biases may therefore arise from incorrect or incomplete observation modeling.3. although not a signal bias.2 Absolute and Relative Positioning There are two GPS positioning modes that are fundamental to considerations of (a) bias propagation into (and hence the impact on the accuracy of) GPS results and (b) the datum to which GPS results refer. such as the atmospheric effects on signal propagation.Introducing the Global Positioning System 107 the SA-induced bias varied from satellite-to-satellite. There are several sources of bias with different characteristics of magnitude.2).6. any “fixed” parameters such as the satellite orbit.2. etc. and over time. these errors largely cancel when the differential or relative positioning mode is used.1. 7. for example. The policy Anti-Spoofing (AS). is computed (Section 9. with respect to a datum such as WGS84 or the ITRF. As the satellite coordinates are essential for the computation of user position. .3.

Low measurement noise would be expected to result in comparatively high accuracy.2 ACCURACY VERSUS POSITIONING MODE Figure 7. 7. • “Data enhancements” and “solution aiding” techniques may be employed. which may be a function of the number of tracked satellites as well as the number of observables (e. The luxury of post-processing the data permits more sophisticated modeling of the GPS data in order to improve the accuracy and the reliability of the results.3). 95% confidence level).S. Hence carrier phase measurements are the basis for high-accuracy techniques (Section 8.108 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology • Whether the results are required in real-time. • 2–10 m level accuracy PPS positioning. because of the difficulty in accounting for the ionospheric bias in the single-frequency C/A-code measurements. to ensure centimeter-level accuracy it is crucial that a so-called ambiguity-fixed solution be obtained (Section 9. • The algorithm type may also impact on GPS accuracy (although this is largely influenced by the observable being processed and the mode of positioning). etc. both intended for single-epoch positioning (NavCen 2009). external data from Inertial Navigation Systems (and other such devices). Department of Defense are the Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and the Precise Positioning Service (PPS). or if post-processing of the data is possible.. representing the current natural accuracy ceiling when using basic navigation-type GPS receivers. • There is a large range of horizontal SPS and PPS accuracy possible due to a variety of factors: • 100 m level accuracy SPS positioning when SA was on during the 1990s. • The level of measurement noise has a considerable influence on the quality of GPS results. while pseudorange measurements are used for comparatively low-accuracy applications (Section 8. using dual-frequency P-code pseudorange measurements. as a result of an artificial degradation of the system.4 illustrates the positioning accuracies associated with the different GPS positioning modes (accuracies are quoted as two-sigma values. The following comments may be made to this figure: • The top half refers to SPP and the lower half to the relative positioning mode. For example.2).4).g.4. • The basic SPP services provided by the U. additional constraints. In the case of carrier phase-based positioning. • 10%–20% improvement is possible using dual-frequency GPS receivers. • 5–15 m level accuracy of SPS positioning without SA. . that is.3. the use of carrier phase-smoothed pseudorange data. • The degree of redundancy in the solution as provided by extra measurements. carrier phase and pseudorange measurements made on L1 and L2 signals).

g.1 ppm) 5 10 20 cm cm cm 50 1 2 cm m m 5 m 10 20 m m 50 100 m m 1 2 5 1 2 mm mm mm cm cm FIGURE 7. The resolution of the carrier phase ambiguities is central to precise carrier phasebased positioning in many surveying and engineering applications (Section 9.Introducing the Global Positioning System 109 Phase measurements Point positions Code measurements S PS (S A on) SP S (pre-SA) S PS (no S A . In all cases. Surprisingly. Carrier phase-based positioning may be in the single-epoch mode (as is necessary for “kinematic” positioning).4 GPS accuracies and positioning modes. the vertical accuracy is about two to three times worse than the horizontal positioning accuracy. 2000+) PPP P PS Relative positions Differential Survey (kinematic) Survey (static) (plus 1 to < 0. 1 cm error in 10 km). . surveying.4. and others. the averaging of SPS results for up to 60 min at a single benchmark does not significantly improve positioning accuracy. the length of observation session. The accuracy of carrier phase-based positioning techniques is a function of baseline length. the number of observations.2). or takes advantage of the receiver being static in order to collect data over an observation session. Precise Point Positioning is possible using carrier phase data. can deliver at least a twofold improvement in basic SPS accuracy. The carrier phase-based procedures are typically only applied in the relative positioning mode for most engineering. with studies typically indicating an improvement of the order of 10%–15% compared to single-epoch solutions. and the relative position accuracy is usually expressed in terms of parts per million (“ppm”—e. with accuracies better than a decimeter currently possible if the observation session is long enough and the receiver is stationary. and geodetic applications. whether ambiguities have been fixed to their integer values or not. coupled with the high-accuracy satellite clock and ephemeris data provided by the IGS. • • • • • • • Dual-frequency GPS..

This is. although increasingly real-time GPS surveying is the norm.1 GPS IN SUPPORT OF GEOSPATIAL APPLICATIONS In this book. It should be emphasized that GPS was originally designed to provide accuracies of the order of a dekameter (10 m) or so in the SPP mode.” encompassing all applications where coordinate information is sought in support of mapping or geospatial applications. 7. It is estimated that the worldwide market for GPS products and services in 2008 was about US$30 billion. measurement technologies. the accuracy threshold for surveying may be arbitrarily set at the submeter level. the development of distinctive field procedures. These are expected to ultimately account for more than 80% of the GPS market in volume. However. and aircraft.2). and how GPS is now an indispensable tool for geospatial professionals. is concerned with the safe passage of vehicles. • Require the use of unique observation procedures. a subjective judgement. of course. on the other hand. • Do not require positioning information “urgently. while mapping accuracies may be satisfied by differential GPS (DGPS) techniques that can deliver accuracies at the few meter level. in the following chapters. and portable GPS for outdoor recreation and similar activities. “GPS surveying” will be considered synonymous with carrier phase-based positioning. The penetration of GPS into many applications (and in particular into consumer devices) helps make the processes and products of geospatial information technology more and more a part of the mainstream information society. Market surveys suggest that the greatest growth is expected to be consumer markets such as in-vehicle applications. and sophisticated software is the hallmark of GPS surveying. • Permit post-processing of data to obtain the highest accuracy possible. the focus will be on the surveying and mapping disciplines. such applications: • Are of comparatively high accuracy. In this book. All other innovations to improve this basic accuracy capability must be viewed in this context. specialized instrumentation. In general.4. In fact. GPS-enabled cellular phones.4 HIGH-PRECISION GPS POSITIONING GPS is having a profound impact on society. and hence demands location information in real time. the authors have adopted a very broad definition of “GPS surveying.110 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology and requires the determination of the correct number of integer wavelengths in the carrier measurement of satellite-to-receiver distance (or linear combinations of the measurements from a pair of receivers to a pair of satellites—see Section 8. and is optimized for realtime operations. and data analysis.” Navigation. As GPS is a navigation system designed to deliver dekameter-level SPP accuracy.6. but in general the phrase “high accuracy” implies a level of coordinate precision much higher than that originally intended of GPS. ships. . 7.

deformation analysis.. Category D includes all other general purpose geolocation surveys intended to coordinate objects or features for map production and GIS data capture (Chapter 25). Category C encompasses lower accuracy surveys. four classes can be identified on this basis: • • • • Scientific surveys (category A): better than 1 ppm Geodetic surveys (category B): 1–5 ppm General surveying (category C): lower than 5 ppm.4. In general (depending on the accuracy sought). 7. global geodesy. geophysical prospecting. as well as the field and office procedures.2 USING GPS IN THE FIELD With respect to category D users (using the pseudorange-based techniques). sensor georeferencing. In the case of land surveying applications. GPS data are collected over some observation session. and with greater efficiency. are not as stringent as for the GPS . and geodynamic applications. 3. which may ultimately be adopted by the categories C and D users. 5. and increasingly for machine guidance applications. to a higher accuracy (for little extra effort). 2. Depending on the accuracy sought. primarily to support engineering and cadastral applications. or the establishment of a network of coordinated points. or more. but accomplished using GPS techniques in less time. For purposes of discussion. 4. centimeter-level Mapping/geolocation (category D): better than 1 m Category A primarily consists of those surveys undertaken in support of precise engineering. Categories A and B users may provide the “technology-pull” impetus for the development of new instrumentation and processing strategies. as well as new applications such as GIS database generation and engineering machine guidance. The points being coordinated are in general stationary. ranging in length from a few seconds to several hours. Category B includes geodetic surveys undertaken for the establishment.Introducing the Global Positioning System 111 • Have as their raison d’être the production of a digital map. the densification. the planning issues. Users in the latter two categories form the majority of the GPS user community. which support traditional tasks of the surveying discipline. and the maintenance of control networks. Generally associated with the traditional surveying and mapping functions. A convenient approach is to adopt a geospatial applications classification on the basis of accuracy requirements. the measurements used for the data reduction are those made on the satellites’ L-band carrier waves. this classification scheme is entirely arbitrary. the characteristics of GPS satellite surveying are: 1. and does not relate to any specification of “order” or “class” of survey as may be defined by national or state survey agencies. Restricted to the relative positioning mode of operation. etc. Note.

or a station has not collected sufficient data. Several criteria for judging the utility of GPS can be identified: . and to derive orthometric (or sea-level referenced) heights • To verify the accuracy and the reliability of the GPS survey (including cases where real-time techniques are used) The GPS project planning and field operation issues are discussed in Chapters 12 and 13. 7. and the strategy to be used for propagating the survey— a logistical challenge • Prudent survey practice. in order to • Verify sufficient common data collected at all sites operating simultaneously • Verify quality of data to ensure that acceptable results will be obtained • Where data dropout is high.4. Some comments to the operational aspects of GPS surveying (categories A. and hence modify the GPS-only network solution • To transform the GPS results (if necessary) to the local geodetic datum. and C described earlier): • Survey planning considerations are derived from • The nature and the aim of the survey project— as for conventional surveys • The unique characteristics of GPS.. the resources at the surveyor’s disposal. reoccupation may be necessary • Office calculations • To obtain GPS solutions for single sessions or baselines • To combine the baseline results into a network solution • To incorporate external information (e. Hence most of the attention will be focused on carrier phase-based techniques.112 Manual of Geospatial Science and Technology surveying users. and in particular no requirement for receiver intervisibility— a simplification in survey design • The number of points to be surveyed. local control station coordinates).g. requiring redundant and check measurements to be incorporated into the network design • Field operations are characterized by requirements for • Clear skyview • Setup of antennas over ground marks • Simultaneous operation of two or more GPS receivers • Common data collection over some observation session (if in static mode) • Deployment of GPS hardware to new stations • Field validation of data collected. B.3 GPS COMPETITIVENESS GPS needs to be competitive with other terrestrial techniques of surveying.

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