What is the Difference Between GNSS and GPS?

| 2020 01 16 | Comments | View Num: 1122

A satellite navigation or "satnav" system is a system of satellites that provide autonomous spatial positioning with global coverage and allow small electronic receivers to determine location (longitude, latitude, and elevation/altitude) using time signals transmitted along a line of sight by radio from satellites. Usually the terms "GPS" and "GNSS" are used interchangeably but there are key differences.


GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite System, It is the standard generic term for satellite navigation systems that provide autonomous geo-spatial positioning with global coverage. This term includes: the GPS, GLONASS, Beidou , Galileoand other regional systems. GNSS is a term used worldwide The advantage to having access to multiple satellites is accuracy, availability and redundancy at all times.  Satellite systems usually do not fail, But if one fails GNSS receivers can pick up signals from other systems.  Also if the line of sight is obstructed, having access to multiple satellites is also a benefit.  Common GNSS Systems are GPS, GLONASS, Beidou ,Galileo and other regional systems.


The US Global Positioning System (GPS) consists of up to 32 medium-Earth orbiting satellites in six different orbital planes, and the exact number of satellites will vary as older satellites are replaced and eliminated. GPS has been in operation since 1978 and available worldwide since 1994. It is currently the most used satellite navigation system in the world.

GNSS/GPS applications include:

· Tracking/Mapping Devices

· Industrial Machinery

· Sea vessels

· Air Navigation

· Automobiles

GPS “Global Positioning System” was the first GNSS system in the United States and originally it used for military applications. Today it is commonly used term in agriculture for describing a positioning system that allows us to auto-steer equipment and map fields. The term of GPS is specific to the United States' GNSS system, the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System. As of 2013, the United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS are the only fully operational GNSS and accordingly account for the bulk of UNAVCO's available equipment and project support. 

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