Cool Geography: The Global Positioning System

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Did you know that you can find the exact location of anywhere on Earth? It's true. You can use the Global Positioning System (GPS).

The GPS is a system of 24 satellites that all work together to create an exact view of Earth. Using advanced technology, these satellites compare one location to a grid of numbers and then find a location, to a great degree of accuracy!

One way to take advantage of this technology is to get a GPS receiver, a little device that you can carry with you most places. If you're out hiking and you get lost, you can find out exactly where you are by using the GPS receiver. You'll get your latitude and longitude and be able to find your way based on your knowledge of the location of where you want to go. In other words, if you know where you should be, you can get there by knowing where you are.

Another use for the GPS technology is to track ships at sea. This can come in handy if fishing boats get lost in a storm or if a cargo vessel gets blown off course and runs out of fuel.

You can also use the GPS system to find out the exact time, down to the fraction of a second. This can be useful if you need to be somewhere at a certain time and you have no idea what time it is.

One of the most fun uses of the GPS system is in your car or your boat. Install a GPS receiver in your vehicle and you can find out exactly where you are on the road or in the water. Even businesses are using GPS fleet tracking systems to keep track of their trucks, which helps them increase productivity and reduce fuel costs. Combine that information with accurate maps, and you have a great way to navigate! Sometime soon, cars and boats will have GPS receivers built in, together with computerized maps and driving directions. At the touch of a button, you will be able to use satellites to tell you the quickest way to get where you're going (even if you're not lost).

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David White