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How GPS Works, Step 2: Measuring distance from a satellite

 

 

All About GPS
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In Review: Measuring Distance

  1. Distance to a satellite is determined by measuring how long a radio signal takes to reach us from that satellite.
     
  2. To make the measurement we assume that both the satellite and our receiver are generating the same pseudo-random codes at exactly the same time.
     
  3. By comparing how late the satellite's pseudo-random code appears compared to our receiver's code, we determine how long it took to reach us.
     
  4. Multiply that travel time by the speed of light and you've got distance.

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