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What Is the Difference Between GPS & GLONASS?


One of the chief reasons for our interconnected world is the space race. Of course, this is seen by many as a divisive power struggle between two world superpowers, but that is only part of the story. As is often the case in human history, our greatest adversity is also responsible for our greatest advancements. 

In particular, one of the technologies to come out of this tumultuous time is RTK GPS. These systems rely on satellite information to provide helpful data for surveyors, consumers, governments, military personnel and much more. All across the world, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are proving their worth each and every day.

We can observe this in our daily lives, as terms like GPS have become synonymous with location tracking, cell phone usage and other daily parts of our lives. But what is GPS really? How does it relate to RTK GPS and what exactly is GLONASS? We take a look at these questions and do our best to provide helpful answers and additional information, right down below.


What is a GNSS?

To understand the differences between GPS and GLONASS, it is essential to first understand GNSS. This umbrella term refers to any satellite system (constellation) that belongs to the same country, government, or organization. There are many reasons that different parts of the world chose to make their own constellation (not the least of which was the aforementioned space race).

As a result, North Americans tend to think of GPS as a reference to a type of technology. In reality, however, it is simply the name of the American GNSS constellation. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the most robust of the current constellations in orbit, but it is still only one of several.

What Are the Other GNSS?

So, if GPS is just one version of a GNSS, what is GLONASS? Well, you may have already guessed, but if not, it is just another GNSS. This one is run by Russia and provides much of the same functionality as the North American version. Though it has slightly fewer satellites in orbit, this amounts to less accuracy, but not necessarily less coverage.

Find Great RTK GPS Here!

Now that you know the difference between GPS and GLONASS, you may be interested in getting your hands on a GNSS receiver that works with these exciting technologies. Or, perhaps we raised more questions than we provided answers for. In either case, reach out or give us a call and we would be happy to provide you with great service, friendly conversation and knowledgeable solutions for everything surveying!

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]

About the Author

Nolan has been working in the surveying field since 2017, starting as a part-time student at Bench-Mark while attending the University of Calgary. He now works in technical support and sales helping customers find the right product for them.

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