Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Natural Hazards

  • Norman Kerle
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_160


Global Satellite Positioning System; GPS; Sat Nav


Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are all-weather systems based on constellations of satellites that allow worldwide terrestrial, maritime, and aerial navigation and position determination, using passive receivers that triangulate a three-dimensional position based on radio signals received from at least four satellites.


Although Global Positioning System (GPS) is a generic term, it has become synonymous with the US-operated NAVSTAR GPS. With the first satellites launched in 1978, it became fully operational in 1995. Developed primarily for military purposes, it remains the only complete global satellite-based positioning system. It employs 24 active satellites orbiting at approximately 20,200 km altitude, ensuring that between 4 and 12 satellites are within direct line of sight of anywhere on Earth. Three-dimensional positions are determined using passive devices that receive encoded signals from at least...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth System Analysis (ESA)University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC)EnschedeThe Netherlands