History and Evolution Of GPS

The History and Evolution of GPS is very vast and unique. From the time of human eveolution we have been searching for a guide that helps us to recognize things and guide us to go and come anywhere conviently. But the technological advancement was not so high that time, that made it impossible. But it didn't remained impossible forever and the concept of tracking was started by Seamen who used to follow the coastline and stars in the sky to to keep themselves from getting lost. Later on the concept of latitude and longitude developed for this. In 1761, John Harrison developed a timepiece called a chronometer that were used with sextants that used to measure the latitude to know the direction.

But in the early twentieth century, the cocept of radio based navigation systems came into existance during the second World War. These were ground-based radio-navigation systems, namely LORAN and the Decca Navigator, which were developed in the early 1940s. Later in, 1956, Friedwardt Winterberg conducted a test of general relativity using atomic clocks placed in orbit inside artificial satellites. But the revolution in the field of radio based navigation came with the launch on Sputnik by Russia on October 4th, !957 which led the concept that artifical stars can also be used for navigation.

Later the scientists of U.S. understood the concept of tracking the satellite's orbit by listening to changes in its radio frequency and they launched the first satellite navigation system called Transit used by the U.S. Navy. This was made possible with the use of six satellites that circled the earth in polar orbits and able to provide a navigational fix approximately once per hour. Later in 1967, the US Navy again developed a new satellite called Timation that had the ability to place accurate clocks in space. The first world wide ground-based Omega Navigation System came into existance in 1970s which was based on comparison of signal transmission from pairs of stations. But all these systems had many limitations and hence were not very accurate.

The US military with the help of an engineer Ivan Getting launched the first GPS system in 1978 and at present this system is a constellation of 24 satellites orbiting 12,000 miles high. All the satellites in this system carried an atomic clock and were able of circling the earth every 12 hrs. The GPS system is owned and operated by the Department of Defense U.S. The first satellite was launched in 1978 and the 24th was launched in 1994. At present all the 24 satellites are fully functional. Earlier, though this system was only used for the military purposes but now a days it has been made available for civilian use and many other uses.


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