Galileo, GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou: what they are and how they differ

When you check the specifications of any Android phone that launches in Spain, you always find a couple of features present in the connectivity section. These are GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, which are three positioning systems for the phone. Three well-known names, but they are not the same, and besides, we cannot forget Beidou, who is beginning to gain prominence.

Next, we will tell you what GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, or Beidou are, as well as the differences between the first three systems. Since there are several differences between all of them, they are so important on Android mobile phones today.
What is Galileo
Galileo is a satellite navigation project developed and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union. The purpose of this system is to create a high-precision positioning system. Also, it is sought to be a European project, which will not depend on GPS or GLONASS (Russian system), in addition to having greater precision than these two.

Since 2011, several of the satellites in this project have been launched, and testing with this system began in 2013. As time has passed this system has been perfected, thanks to the more satellites being put into orbit. Since the goal is to create a system that is more accurate than GPS or GLONASS, as we mentioned.

Galileo is also a civilian project, so unlike GPS or GLONASS, which are driven for military purposes, it is not intended to make use of it in the military sphere, nor is an army sought to have power over it, as happens in GPS. Since a project like GPS can be used for espionage, something that is not sought or can be done with Galileo.

What is GPS
GPS is the Global Positioning System. It is a system that has been developed and installed by the U.S. Department of Defense, although it is currently owned by the United States Space Force.

The purpose of this system is to determine the position of an object precisely. The accuracy is usually a few meters, although, in the case of the use of differential GPS, it could be centimeters. To detect or determine that position, a system of satellites that are in orbit in space is used. At least four satellites are needed to determine that position. It measures the time it takes to get the signal from your location to the satellite and measures how far each signal is.

Another positioning system that we have told you about, which we also find on Android phones, as GLONASS. The acronym GLONASS comes from Global'naya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema, words that translated from Russian come to mean something like Global Satellite Navigation System. It was initially developed in the former Soviet Union and is now owned by the Russian Federation.

It has a total of 31 satellites in orbit, although 24 are operational. It can serve everyone, even if it is a service owned by Russia. Especially since 2010, we are seeing many Android phones that use or support this system.


What is Beidou
Besides, also written as BeiDou in some cases, is the Chinese alternative to GPS or Galileo or GLONASS. Driven by the Chinese government, it already has a total of 30 satellites in orbit, allowing them to operate worldwide. This was the step they needed and have reached in 2020.

We have long seen some Android phones with this system, on Chinese brands in their entirety (70% of phones in China are already supported). Although the one that has been achieved that can already be used as a global positioning system allows you to have more presence or more devices can make use of it.

How GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo differ
While the two are positioning systems, there are several clear differences between the two. The main difference that we find between Galileo and GPS, is that the first one seeks to have an accuracy five times greater in the location. Also, it seeks to offer better positioning in both horizontal and vertical measurements and work better at high altitudes. Since these are the weaknesses in systems like GPS.

To make this so, Galileo's satellites orbit with a trajectory that is slightly inclined towards the poles. Also, in the case of this system, it is oriented to its civilian use, so that armies have no part or power in that project. It is therefore a project that is less invasive or problematic in privacy issues. It is also a project that has more modern technology, since it has the ability to identify the route in which you circulate, for example.

Galileo, being a system for civilian use, has several applications today. One of the most important is that it is used in location and rescue operations, as it allows to reduce the positioning radius of the person being searched. Thanks to this system, it can be located within a radius of 5 kilometers in about 10 minutes.

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