The Global Positioning System: Signals, measurements, and performance

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Abstract

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation and time transfer system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. It serves marine, airborne, and terrestrial users, both military and civilian. Specifically, GPS includes the Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which provides civilian users with 100 meter accuracy, and it serves military users with the Precise Positioning Service (PPS) which provides 20-m accuracy. Both of these services are available worldwide with no requirement for a local reference station. In contrast, differential operation of GPS provides 2- to 10-m accuracy to users within 1000 km of a fixed GPS reference receiver. Finally, carrier phase comparisons can be used to provide centimeter accuracy to users within 10 km and potentially within 100 km of a reference receiver. This advanced tutorial will describe the GPS signals, the various measurements made by the GPS receivers, and estimate the achievable accuracies. It will not dwell on those aspects of GPS which are well known to those skilled in the radio communications art, such as spread-spectrum or code division multiple access. Rather, it will focus on topics which are more unique to radio navigation or GPS. These include code-carrier divergence, codeless tracking, carrier aiding, and narrow correlator spacing.