GNSS, GLONASS, GPSWhat is this article about?  This is a short summary that explains the the three components of a satellite navigation system, the differences between the orbital satellite systems and what makes up GNSS.  ”Differences Between GPS, GLONASS, and GNSS Explained” was written by Mark Young, GPS Tech II and Field Crew Chief, GEO-Jobe GIS Consulting.

Satellite navigation systems consist of three components:

  1. The Space Segment- A constellation satellites orbiting in evenly distributed orbital planes that send signals to the user segment.
  2.  The Control Segment- ground stations spread out around the earth that monitor the satellites’ orbits and send precise orbital data.  Because they are stationary, ground stations are able to clock corrections back to the satellites. (11 GPS and 5 GLONASS) The User Segment- Consists of devices that receive signal from the satellites and the people using the GPS receivers
  3. The User Segment- Consists of devices that receive signal from the satellites and the people using the GPS receivers.

American GPS GPS (Global Positioning System) developed by the United States Department of Defense, and provides 31 orbital satellites.  Get the Big Picture about GPS

Russian FlagGLONASS  developed by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, and provides 24 orbital satellites.

The term GNSS stands for “Global Navigation Satellite Systems”. Before understanding the term one must understand the makeup of GNSS which includes both GPS + GLONASS.  If political affiliations provide, the future of GNSS could include the European Union Galileo positioning system, Chinese Compass navigation system, and the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System.  Over the past few years, advancements in technology alongside a growing number of orbital satellites have given rise to highly accurate location based equipment such as Trimble’s GeoXH 6000 which provides GNSS capabilities that consistently give users up to decimeter accuracy. Accuracies are more precise with GNSS because they connect to almost twice as many satellites, providing more location related data.  You can track GNSS status’s here

For more information about GNSS equipment, contact us at


Marketing Manager at GEO-Jobe GIS Consulting
Marshall is the head editor of MapThis! and a firm believer in the story GIS technology creates out of location-driven data. He is passionately developing the MapThis! Initiative to help support GIS education.

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