Global Positioning Systems

Written by Beth Hrusch
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Global positioning systems use technology developed and controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense to compute navigation, velocity and time. While the original applications were for the military, there are currently many civilian users of GPS around the world. Portable GPS units can receive coordinates, maps and other information from satellites and store them for use when in unfamiliar territory.

Global Positioning Systems for Outdoor Adventure

One of the most popular uses for GPS by civilians is for navigation while engaged in outdoor sports. When hiking, camping, hunting or traveling far from home, a handheld GPS unit can chart your course and tell you your position when there are no familiar landmarks. This device receives specially coded signals from GPS satellites. It then processes the information and computes position.

For those who want a comprehensive picture while out on the trail, some handheld GPS units come loaded with maps and information on cities, tides, and even nautical navigation. Track logs help you retrace your steps by saving different routes in memory, ready to be pulled up when needed. Software can be downloaded into a GPS unit that will give travelers information such as local points of interest, the location of hospitals, restaurants and hotels.

Once used only by the military, global positioning systems now provide useful navigational help to civilians in a variety of situations. Outdoor sporting stores sell receivers that process information from global positioning systems satellites and are portable for use on the trail or in the woods. These units are designed to use in the car to help you get where you are going, then detach to be taken with you.

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