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Author Topic:   GPS --> GNSS
jimh posted 01-29-2012 12:16 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
For many boaters the term "GPS" refers to satellite navigation in a general way and is an acronym for "global positioning system." Until now, most marine satellite navigation receivers were designed to use the U.S. Air Force NAVSTAR Global Positioning System, or GPS for short. In early December, 2011, things began to change. NAVSTAR is no longer the only operating global navigation satellite system or GNSS.

With their December 8, 2011 rocket launch of their 24th satellite, the Russians now have full global coverage with their GNSS called GLONASS. And the Russians intend to launch three more satellites in 2012.

Modern GNSS receivers are now in production that can use both GPS and GLONASS satellites for position finding and navigation. For example, if you have an Apple iPhone 4S, you have a GNSS receiver that can use both GLONASS and GPS.

I expect that we will see some marine navigation devices incorporate a GNSS receiver that can work with both GPS and GLONASS.

To avoid confusion, boaters should become familiar with the term GNSS, and use it as a general term for global satellite navigation systems, in preference to using GPS for that purpose. Use GPS to refer only to the U.S. Air Force NAVSTAR Global Positioning System.

And, of course, no one has a "GPS" on their boat: they have a GPS receiver. Sometimes the GPS receiver is part of a multi-function display that includes a chart plotter, electronic cartography, and a SONAR. That device is also not a "GPS." And soon that multi-function device may include a GNSS receiver.

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