$8 Billion Upgrade Will Make GPS More Accurate
Formerly confined to bulky boxes and military gadgets, GPS has infiltrated just about every part of our lives. Just a few years after people were buying GPS units for their cars, it has become a standard feature in new phones.
But increasing the number of GPS-capable devices also increases the load on the system of GPS satellites and infrastructure, which is aging quickly and in need of serious overhaul. Everything from cell phone networks to hospitals rely on GPS every day, and those industries need a reliable replacement in order to keep functioning, not to mention the number of people who would be lost without turn-by-turn directions.
Fortunately, the government is working on an $8 billion upgrade that will make GPS more reliable and accurate.
"This new system has the potential to deliver capabilities we haven't seen yet," Marco Caceres, senior space analyst for aerospace research firm Teal Group, told the Los Angeles Times. "Because GPS touches so many industries, it's hard to imagine what industry wouldn't be affected."
Currently, GPS-enabled devices can pinpoint a location to within 20 feet, which is impressive but still a fairly large margin of error. Some are even less accurate. The new system, however, can pinpoint locations down to two or three feet, a huge improvement.
There are 24 satellites that provide GPS data, working in tandem to pinpoint the location of GPS-enabled devices around the world. The upgrade process will have to be seamless, so the satellites will be replaced one by one. The first one will be launching from Cape Canaveral this weekend.