It’s very difficult to get completely lost these days as you’re always in the sight of a satellite and most likely have GPS on your mobile phone or in your car. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and can pinpoint your location to just a few metres. The use of GPS in your car will soon have you back on track if you decide to veer off course for any reason. Satellite navigation appears all over the place now and even helps to track our parcels and grow our crops. It seems that getting lost may one for the history books.

‘Sat Nav’ literally means using a portable radio receiver to pick up super fast signals from satellites orbiting above the planet. It is incredibly accurate and can pinpoint your position, speed and tell you the local time. Anyone can use it, at any time, anywhere in the world. One of the best known systems uses 24 active satellites all year round, as they orbit the Earth every 12 hours. We have this technology thanks to the US military who first used satellites in this way in 1973.

Where am I

Image credit

GPS can be found in many vehicles these days for example, buses able to show digital signs on bus stops of the location and arrival time of the next bus and taxis able to get you to your destination more efficiently as they receive real time updates about congestion or accidents. For Taxi Chester, visit

There are 3 main components needed for GPS and these include one part in space, one part on the ground and one part in your possession, such as a car sat nav or mobile phone. So we have the space component, in the form of a satellite, the ground component in the form of a vast and complex network of antennas and control stations and a personal element which is the electronic receiver and is your device.

Each satellite is continually beaming down a radio wave towards Earth and the receiver picks up this signal. If your receiver can pick up the signal from 3 or 4 of these satellites, then it can triangulate your location and your altitude. The signals travel at the speed of light and the information from the satellite is stamped with the individual satellite’s information and time that information left. By calculating what time the signal arrives, the receiver can work out how long it took to travel and how far it has come. So you can see that with this kind of information from 3 or 4 different satellites, your device can figure out where in the world you are!

We mainly use GPS on a daily basis for driving to places we’ve not visited before but what about other applications? This system helps driverless cars as if a vehicle always knows where it is, it can drive itself and could solve some major urban congestion issues. It could also be employed in airports to a greater extent resulting in us not relying on radar quite so much. Farmers have been using GPS in tractors and crop dusters too which enables more efficient and precise harvesting.