GPS: Global Positioning System

Science Encyclopedia for Kids

Finding Our Way

People have always loved to explore. Our natural curiosity makes us wonder what is over the next hill, or where a stream might take us. It's exciting to set off on a journey to a new place, but if we don't know where we are going, we might end up losing our way. We can travel on foot, by boat, or by car. Sometimes, we choose to ride bicycles to reach our destination. We m…

1 minute read

How GPS Works - Satellites, Monitoring Stations, Receivers

The Global Positioning System begins with 24 satellites. Each satellite makes two complete rotations around the Earth every day. Extra satellites have been put into orbit, so that they can take over when older satellites stop working. The satellites are solar powered. Solar panels collect energy from the Sun, and use it to power the satellite. Each satellite carries four atomic clocks that send t…

4 minute read

The History of the Global Positioning System

We live in a time when technology is rapidly changing. It wasn't so long ago that preparing for a trip meant making sure you had updated versions of the right maps. If you got lost, there was no such thing as a cell phone. You'd need to pull over and ask directions or find a pay phone and call for help. So how did the Global Positioning System come about? In the 1960s, United States…

1 minute read

Traveling by Automobile with GPS

Now that you understand how GPS works, it's time to explore the fun side of the technology. For many people, the receiver they use in their car is their introduction to using the system. Have you ever driven to an unfamiliar place? Sometimes it can be confusing to navigate in a new city. If you have a GPS receiver, you can type in the address you're looking for and it will tell you …

1 minute read

Enjoying the Outdoors with GPS - Hiking, Boating, Fishing, Navigating at Sea, Outdoor Sports

Your GPS receiver can be especially useful on a hike in an unfamiliar area. Think about taking a walk in the woods. You follow a path into the woods and begin spotting trees, mosses, birds, and squirrels. After a while, you think you've spotted a rabbit behind a small bush, so you step off the trail to investigate. You follow the rabbit as it hops away, leaving the trail behind, but after …

2 minute read


Have you ever gone on a scavenger hunt? You might have used a map as you searched for a list of treasures. If your scavenger hunt took place in the woods, your list probably included things like pinecones, acorns, or the feather from a bird. A new sport uses GPS in a high tech approach to scavenger hunts. It is called geocaching. Geocaching gets its name from the prefix geo- and the word cache. G…

2 minute read

GPS at Work

GPS technology doesn't just enhance our enjoyment of outdoor sports. It also serves to makes our labor less difficult. Construction companies use GPS to save time and plan accurately. Surveyors and mapmakers also benefit from the information. Delivery trucks and courier services find GPS data helpful in planning their routes. They can determine the safest and fastest way to get from …

2 minute read

GPS Units: Various Receivers for Various Needs

All GPS receivers use information from orbiting satellites to determine their location, but consumers will want to think about their own specific needs before making a purchase. Handheld units are ideal for hiking, cycling, and geocaching. Boaters will look for water-resistant marine units that map waterways and monitor depth. Automobile receivers come with preloaded maps. A voice will talk you t…

1 minute read


atomic clocks (uh-TOM-ik KLOKS): clocks that have the ability to measure time very precisely breadcrumb trail (BRED-kruhm TRAYL): the GPS display of the path a person has traveled cache (KASH): a waterproof container that usually holds trinkets, a logbook, and a pencil for someone to find data (DAY-tuh): information that is collected for a specific purpose geocaching (JEE-oh-kash-ing): using a GP…

1 minute read

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