GPS or Weather Satellite orbiting Earth

GNSS Receivers: GPS III Making a Difference

The GPS III satellites are here, and they make a difference to your RTK solutions. The S631 can use the Block 3 satellites new signals, can your reciever?

What is GPS III

GPS 3 is the newest itteration of GPS satellite to be launched into space, and as the name suggests is the third itteration. GPS started in 1978 with the launch of the Block 1 constellation, which in 1985 began to be replaced by the Block 2 iteration. Over the years there have been multiple different Block 2 sub-groups, with the Block 2 era coming to an end in 2016. Each sub group introduced a new signal, with Block IIR-M introducing L5 and the last Block IIF introducing the L5 signal.

After many delays, Block 3 was finally launched in 2018, with 5 satellites having now been launched. The Block II satllites introduced the L1C signal. Both the L1C and L2C signals are designed to perform better in low Signal to noise environments, like under canopy. As more of the GPS III satellites come online, this means that your under canopy performance is only going to improve.

GPS SatelliteNumber OperationalSignals
GPS IIF12L1 C/A, L2P, L2C, L5
GPS III5L1 C/A, L1C, L2P, L2C, L5
What GPS satellites are currently in orbit, and the signals they broadcast

What Does this Mean for RTK?

As time goes on, your receiver is only going to improve. The more and more satellites that are launched into orbit, the better and better your under canopy performance is going to be. This means that investing today in the technology that can support the signals that are coming online, will only become a better and better investment.

Hemisphere Staying Ahead

Regarding the GNSS receiver technology, the new Phantom (S631) and Vega (Vector) series of receivers are equipped with the Lyra II chipset, which is capable of tracking all of these signals. When the receiver turns on and starts tracking, it can track all of the civilian signals from the satellites, regardless of what block of satellite they are. In the RTK math, the receiver uses the entire selection of available signals and corrections to determine which measurements are the most reliable and weights them accordingly. By using this approach, the Phantom and Vega receivers are ready to take advantage of the incremental improvements seen as new satellites are launched.

It is also worth noting the improvements made by adding the other GNSS constellations: GLONASS (Russian), Galileo (European), and BeiDou (Chinese). GLONASS has been around for decades without much technology improvement, but Galileo and BeiDou are relatively new. Their newer signal structures give all of their signals many of the L1C / L2C benefits, and the are also broadcasting in a way to provide 4 and even 5 frequency measurements compared to the 3 available with GPS. For Calgary today, there are an average of 8 GPS satellites available above 10° mask angle, but there are on average 23 other GNSS satellites covering you as well. Much of the Phantom and Vega RTK performance comes from using the Galileo and BeiDou measurements, combined with the GPS.

Bench Mark Equipment & Supplies is your team to trust with all your surveying equipment. We have been providing high-quality surveying equipment to land surveyors, engineers, construction, airborne and resource professionals since 2002. This helps establish ourselves as the go-to team in Calgary, Canada, and the USA. Plus, we provide a wide selection of equipment, including global navigation satellite systems, RTK GPS equipment, GNSS receivers, and more. We strive to provide the highest level of customer care and service for everyone. To speak to one of our team today, call us at 403-286-0333 or email us at [email protected]

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