Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)


Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), and their regional augmentations, are being developed in a number of countries and users will soon be faced with a confusing array of jargon and capabilities from “competing” systems.

There are currently two GNSS, the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is operated by the United States military and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), which is operated by the Russian Federation military. There is also one Chinese Regional Satellite System called Beidou. GPS and GLONASS are currently being modified to make them more useful for civilian applications.

There are a number of Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems and also Ground-Based Augmentation Systems available, both globally and locally, to increase the integrity, accuracy and usefulness of the satellite systems.

A new GNSS is being developed by the European Union (EU), called Galileo. The European system aims to decrease the dependence of users, especially commercial and safety-of-life users, on the Russian and United States systems. Galileo will also be designed to accomodate the more varied needs of these civilian users. Japan is planning a Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) that will increase the integrity of the current systems and also increase the number of visible satellites in dense urban areas.

All of these changes to GNSS will have a marked impact on surveyors and other users in Australia. The attainable accuracy will increase, reliability and satellite availablility will improve and the strength of the navigation signals will be increased.

Some of the Systems

GNSS is becoming an international endeavor with many countries contributing to the global systems using their own local augmentations and navigation satellites. The European Union is taking this a step further and introducing a third Global System to work in conjunction with GPS and GLONASS. Some of the current and future systems include:

Galileo The European Union is developing their own GNSS, it will not be controlled by the military, as is the case with existing systems. Galileo is the most significant development in the field of satellite navigation...more

Beidou Beidou (Big Dipper) is China’s current satellite navigation system. It is part of a positioning system that will cover China and some of the surrounding areas with an aim to provide constant navigational capabilities...more

GPS The Global Positioning System is the current standard of GNSS. It was originally designed for use by the Military. It is the only system that is fully operational...more

QZSS Japan's proposed Quasi-Zenith Satellite System is intended to address the problems inherent in using GNSS in dense urban areas...more

GLONASS The GNSS of the Russian Federation (formerly USSR) never reached Full Operational Capability due to a withdrawal of funding. Russia has pledged itself to reinvigorate GLONASS and to modify it to a competitive standard...more

SydNET This is a new augmentation system being implemented in Sydney, Australia. Sydnet utilises Network Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS...more

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