Difference between GPS and Satellite Navigation System

GPS or Global Positioning System is a satellite-based navigation system developed in 1970 by the US Department of Defense. With time, it became a worldwide global utility and it is now used heavily from mobiles to cars for navigation purposes.

Satellite Navigation System is a geospatial positioning system that employs satellites to enable autonomous positioning. It is built on a large network of artificial satellites in the medium-earth orbit that broadcast radio waves. Satellite Navigation Systems assist us in navigating unfamiliar roadways, whether by land, sea, or air.

Read through this article to find out more about GPS and Satellite Navigation Systems and how they are different from each other.

What is GPS?

GPS is a navigation system that uses one or more earth-based receivers to receive and analyze satellite signals in order to identify the receiver's geographic location.

  • A GPS receiver is a device with an antenna, a radio receiver, and a CPU that may be carried, mounted or implanted. A screen display that indicates an individual's position on a map is common. Some of them may also be used as portable media player.

  • GPS functionality is integrated into or available as an add-on feature on many mobile devices, such as smartphones. Some users utilize a portable GPS receiver, while others attach a receiver to an item such as a car, boat, plane, or farm. Many automobiles include GPS systems that offer instructions or other information to drivers.

  • The earliest and most widely utilized application of GPS technology is to help people figure out where they are. The information acquired from a GPS, on the other hand, can be used to create a map, determine the best route between two places, locate a missing person or stolen thing, track the movement of a person or object, determine altitude, and calculate speed.

GPS has a constellation of 24 artificial satellites orbiting the earth. GPS satellites provide complete world coverage by arranging four satellites in each of the six orbital planes. Each satellite sends a radio signal to the GPS receivers which then accurately determine their location as coordinates in terms of longitude, latitude, and altitude.

A GPS receiver, which may be found anywhere on or near the Earth's surface, receives the time and location-based information from the GPS system. GPS operates in all-weather situations as long as it can communicate with four or more GPS satellites in an unobstructed line of sight.

It is a global navigation satellite that sends geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth when four or more GPS satellites can be seen without obstruction. Note that GPS signals are rather weak, so they can get easily obstructed.

The GPS does not need the user to send any data, and it works independently of telephonic or Internet reception, but both technologies can improve the accuracy of GPS location data. Military, municipal, and commercial users all around the world rely on the GPS for vital location-related information.

What is Satellite Navigation System?

Satellite Navigation System is a generic term that describes the use of satellites to provide autonomous geo-spacing positioning. It is based on a wide network of satellites that send radio signals.

  • Satellite Navigation System is also termed as Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). GPS is the most active and is widely used GNSS all over the world. Russian GLONASS, European Galileo and Chinese BDS, Beidou Navigation Satellite Systems are other popular GNSS systems.

  • A satellite navigation system uses time signals that broadcast along a line of sight by satellites to let small electronic receivers calculate their location (longitude, latitude, and altitude/elevation) with great precision (within a few centimeters to meters).

  • The system may be used to provide position, navigation, or track the location of something that has a receiver attached to it (satellite tracking). The signals also enable the electronic receiver to compute the current local time to a high degree of precision, allowing for time synchronization.

Difference between GPS and Satellite Navigation System

The following table compares and contrasts the features of GPS and Satellite Navigation Systems and highlights their differences.

KeyGPSSatellite Navigation System
GPS is a satellite-based navigation system.
Satellite Navigation System is a system based on a wide network of artificial satellites.
In GPS, the satellites send radio signals continuously having two carriers. One carrier contains the codes and the other contains the navigation message.
Satellites send reference information from which navigation, position and timing details can be derived globally.
Maintained By
GPS is maintained by the US Department of Defense.
Satellite Navigation System is autonomous.


GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that uses satellite signals in order to identify a receiver's geographic location. Satellite navigation systems refer to a constellation of satellites that provide worldwide navigation, location, and timing services.

Updated on: 10-Aug-2022

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