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GEOG 204

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Background and Concept of GPS Components and Principles of GPS Challenges and Errors in GPS Survey Differential GPS Field Procedures with the GPS Fieldwork

Background - 1
Traditional survey methods are being challenged by several new methods of determining location. Although these methods use long standing ground survey principles, automated electronic technology has greatly increased the speed of implementation. The term positioning has replaced the term survey when referring to these methods. Electronic technology has led to significant advances in the speed and accuracy of traditional ground survey methods.

Background - 2
The most promising and widely use satellite based system at this time is the one supported by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). It is called the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS). Other positioning systems are the GLONASS initiated in 1991 by the Soviet Union (Russia), and the proposed Galileo system in Europe. These systems have revolutionized the measurement of position which was previously done through complicated land surveying methods. With this system it is possible for people to know almost exactly where they are anywhere on the surface of the earth

Figure 1.1 The site of rebuilding the Dam Ryan

Figure 1.2 A satellite in orbit

Figure 1.3 GPS Satellite Constellation

The GPS consists of a system of 24 satellites (plus some spares) each orbiting the earth every 12 hours on distinct orbits at a height of 20,200km and transmitting radio pulses at very precisely timed intervals.

Basic Concepts
The basic premise of GPS is the same as that of any surveying system, i.e. the coordinates of new points are found by making observations with respect to points of known coordinates. The only differences here are that the known points are in satellite orbit, and are not stationary. The magic of GPS is its ability to virtually pinpoint the location in spherical co-ordinates (latitude and longitude), of any point on or above the earth. All one needs to do is to carry a GPS receiver to the unknown location and read its display and the unknown becomes known.

Components of GPS
The system is made up of three segments namely:

The space segment The control segment The user segment

Figure 1.7 Segments of the GPS System

The space segment of the system consists of the GPS satellites. These satellites also known as space vehicles (SVs) send radio signals from space. The nominal GPS Operational Constellation consists of 24 satellites that orbit the earth in 12hours. There are often more than 24 operational satellites as new ones are launched to replace older satellites. The orbit altitude is such that the satellites repeat the same ground track and configuration over any point approximately each 24 hours; 4minutes earlier each day. There are six orbital planes (60o apart), and inclined at about 55o with respect to the equatorial plane. This constellation provides the user with between five and eight SVs visible from any point on the earth.

The control segment consists of a system of tracking stations located around the world The master control facility is located at Schriever Air Force Base (formally Falcon AFB) in Colorado, USA. These monitor stations measure signals from the SVs which are incorporated into orbital models for each satellite. The models compute precise orbital data (ephemeris) and SV atomic clock corrections for each satellite. The Master Control station uploads ephemeris and clock data to the SVs. The SVs then send subsets of the orbital ephemeris data to GPS receivers over radio signals.

The GPS User Segment consists of the GPS receivers and the user community (cartographers, surveyors, pilots, navigators, etc.). GPS receivers convert SV signals into position, velocity and time estimates for the user community. Four satellites are required to compute the four dimensions of X, Y, Z (position) and times. GPS receivers are used for navigation, positioning, time dissemination, and other research. Navigation in three dimensions is the primary function of GPS. Navigation receivers are made for aircraft ,ships, ground vehicles and for hand carrying by individuals Precise positioning is possible using GPS receivers at reference locations providing corrections and relative positioning data for remote receivers. Surveying, geodetic control, and plate tectonic studies are examples. Time and frequency dissemination, based on the precise clocks on board the SVs and controlled by the monitor stations is another use for GPS. Astronomical observatories, telecommunications facilities, and laboratory standards can be set to precise time signals or controlled to accurate frequencies by special purpose GPS receivers. Research projects have used GPS signals to measure atmospheric parameters, oceanography, land measurements, soil, water gradient, etc.

GPS Positioning Services

The accuracy of positioning from the GPS depends on two main services which are provided in the Federal Radio Navigation Plan. These services are known as

Precise Positioning Services (PPS) and Standard Positioning Services (SPS)

Precise Positioning Services

Authorised users with cryptographic equipment and keys and specially equipped receivers use the Precise Positioning System (PPS). U.S and Allied military, certain U.S Government agencies, and selected civil users specifically approved by the U.S Government, can use the PPS.

The Predictable Accuracy horizontal accuracy of the (PPS) is about 22m. The vertical and time accuracies provided are however variable.

Standard Positioning Services

Civil users worldwide use the SPS without charge or restrictions. Most receivers are capable of receiving and using the SPS signal. The SPS accuracy is intentionally degraded by the DOD by the use of Selective Availability of satellite signals for the military custodians The Predictable Horizontal Accuracy of the (SPS) is about 100m. The vertical and time accuracies provided are also variable. Some receiver specification sheets list horizontal accuracy in RMS or CEP and without Selective Availability, making those receivers appear more accurate than those specified by more responsible vendors using more conservative error measures.

GPS Sources of Error

The positional accuracy achieved with GPS receivers depends on a number of things including the following: Bias errors result from Selective Availability and other factors GPS errors are a combination of noise, bias, and blunders. Noise Bias and Blunders

Noise errors are the combined effect of PRN code noise (around 1 meter) and noise within the receiver noise (around I meter).

Awareness of Error Sources

The following awareness checkpoints should be kept in mind.

GPS navigation signals are similar to light so anything that blocks light will block or reduce the effectiveness of the signals, including tunnels, heavily forested areas/canopy, etc. The GPS receiver therefore requires line-of-sight access to the satellite signals.
Avoid placing your hands on or over the antenna when the unit is in operation. The more unobstructed view of the sky you have, the better the GPS unit will perform. Always hold the GPS receiver with the antenna oriented upward in a position that is unobstructed by the operators own body as you can see in Figure 3.1. There are several different antenna designs. These are either internal within the GPS receiver, or externally mounted on a roof, vehicle or pole. To keep the antenna in a proper orientation, consider mounting an external antenna on the roof of the field vehicle, if the instrument will accommodate it. A pointed end on the pole would allow it to be stuck in the ground while recording information at a sample site. At each site be aware of any buildings, cliffs, or trees that may affect accuracy by obstructing the view to some of the satellite array and be aware of electrical lines or radio towers that may also interfere with the signal from the satellites.

GPS Field Procedures

Select maps Select the coordinate system Determine the level of accuracy needed for locations Investigate satellite visibility for the dates of an expected field trip and select optimum times Determine the location of control points of known coordinates Create a geo-referenced image with an overlay of important points and useful landmarks. Select points to visit (for measurement, observation, or accuracy assessment), and obtain coordinates from the geo-referenced image Identify observations to be made regarding site characteristics

Task 1 Data dictionary creation/integration with GIS database. Performed prior to field collection. Task 2 Decided which areas will be targeted for data collection on a given day. Task is performed prior to data collection. Task 3 Check satellite data. Task is performed prior to data collection. Task 9 Equipment maintenance

Task 4 Configure GPS receivers.

Optimal work flow for a typical GPS data collection project

Task 8 Revisions (procedural or database) Task is performed before next field session. Task 7 Export to GIS format. Integrate with GIS Task 6 Data download, post processing.

Task 5 Data collection

Field or Office Task

Field Task

Office Task

GPS data collection GPS group GPS group working with GPS data collectors

Box 2: Information on GPS Field Sheet

Site information: site ID, time of day and date, nearby landmarks. Map information: map datum, UTM zone, and magnetic declination Environmental information: sky cover, weather, tree canopy, possible obstructions and electrical interference. A circular diagram may be included for marking azimuth and elevation of possible obstruction

Box 3: Summary of Field Procedures with the GPS

Be sure the GPS antenna is properly oriented and unobstructed at all times. Initialize the instrument using nearby latitude and longitude coordinates from a topographic map corner. After initialization, switch to other coordinate systems if desired. Check the satellite almanac with the instrument plot of visible satellites for the time and day. Visit known control sites if possible to check for accuracy. Derive coordinates from a map if known coordinates are not available Navigate to sample sites Make appropriate notation of features that may affect GPS locational accuracy