GPS sets sights to 36-meter accuracy

GPS sets sights to 36-meter accuracy

The Defense Department's Global Positioning System today closed in on targets with a 36-meter horizontal accuracy standard for civilian use'much finer than the 100-meter accuracy under the 1995 GPS standard. Thirty-six meters equals about 119 feet.

DOD last year stopped purposely distorting its GPS Standard Positioning Service readings on civilian receivers for security reasons.

A 66-page document in Adobe Portable Document format, at www.navcen.uscg.gov/gps/geninfo/2001SPSPerformanceStandardFINAL.pdf, spells out the technical specifications of the new GPS standard. DOD has said it will notify civilian users when unforeseen problems affect the 36-meter performance accuracy.

The GPS Precise Positioning Service, available only to military and intelligence users, has 22-meter horizontal accuracy. It is as essential to military weapons and navigation systems as the standard satellite service is to mapping, surveying and air traffic.

Future GPS improvements will correct ionospheric distortion in readings and provide continuity-of-service assurance. They will go into effect with satellite launches beginning in 2003.

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