What Is Satellite Tracking - LandAirSea.com (2024)

What Is Satellite Tracking?

Satellite tracking uses orbiting satellites to trace a person or object’s location. This can boost safety and security, improve leisure activities, and make businesses run smoothly. In this guide, we’ll answer the question, “What is satellite tracking?” and explain how it can help businesses and individuals.

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How Does Satellite Tracking Work?

Satellite tracking devices track how long it takes to receive a signal from a satellite. Comparing the results from three different satellites is enough to calculate location information. This location includes the device’s precise latitude, longitude, and elevation.

The process can also create time signals, allowing for accurate movement tracking. However, you’ll need data from a fourth satellite for time signals.

The FAA has a great guideif you want to get into more detail about the technology.

Satellite Tracking and GPS

The terms satellite tracking and GPS are sometimes used interchangeably. However, GPS (Global Positioning System) is a specific example of satellite tracking technology.

GPS is a network of 24 satellites orbiting in a specific pattern. Virtually any location on Earth aligns with at least the three GPS satellites required to determine the exact location. Although controlled by the US, the network is accessible to anyone with satellite GPS trackers, be it on a spaceship, boat or handheld device. According to the US Space Force, the network calculates time signals to within a millionth of a second.

Several other organizations operate their own satellite network, known as a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). These serve a range of purposes, including satellite communication and positioning.

Examples include:

  • The Globalstar satellite network (used mainly for satellite phones that can operate in remote areas)
  • The network of Iridium satellites
  • The Inmarsat BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) (offers tracking but is mainly used for data communication)

Ways To Use Satellite Tracking

Satellite tracking use falls into three main categories: tracking your own location, sharing your location with others, and tracking objects.

Tracking your own location is particularly useful if you are in places where the cellular data signal is incomplete or unreliable. Combining location data with map information makes satellite navigation possible. This means you can navigate safely even in more remote areas.

GPS satellite tracking is also useful for leisure activities and extreme sports where you need to follow a specific course. It can enable geofencing, using location data to produce a virtual boundary, for example, to avoid trespassing. Look for devices that can transmit emergency alerts in case of difficulties. That’s what saved the life of a hiker in Scotlandwhose distress signal was picked up by a monitoring system 4,500 miles away in Houston. Operators could relay the hiker’s accurate location to local mountain rescue teams.

Live trackers can let your contacts keep track of where you are and quickly act if there is any problem.

Tracking objects has both consumer and business uses. Asset tracking is an excellent way to keep track of specialist equipment, such as sports gear, that could be lost in transit or stolen. Businesses can use asset trackers on vehiclesand specialist equipment, from cars to cargo containers. A great example is when thieves stole a Malibu homebuilder’s trailer and $300,000 worth of wood. A LandAirSea tracker attached to the trailer helped police recover and return the trailer.

In addition to getting real-time alerts, businesses can build up historical data records. These can help with future route planning and fuel efficiency. A satellite asset tracker can even help you manage stock and provide delivery updates to customers. This feature will work even when using third-party logistics services.

Popular Satellite Tracking Devices

These are some popular devices and their key features, showing the broad range of uses for satellite tracking:

  • Globalstar’s SPOT is a handheld device that lets users send pre-programmed messages or emails. The device will attach their current GPS coordinates. The SPOT Gen4 includes a battery-saving motion sensor that only sends updated location info when the user moves. (Despite the name, the device does not use the SPOT satellite network, mainly for imaging.)
  • Globalstar also produces a tracking device. The SPOT Trace’s key features include instant email or text alerts if a vibration sensor detects the tracker is moving.
  • The pocket-sized ACR Bivy Stick offers two-way satellite messaging and has a dedicated number for receiving SMS messages. It can work as a standalone device or connect to a smartphone through Bluetooth.
  • The SmartOne Solar from Globalstar is designed to track assets such as machinery rather than people. It doesn’t just track location but also has customizable sensors. These can track variables such as tank levels or engine run time. As the device is solar-powered, it offers a 10-year lifespan.
  • LandAirSea’s Overdrive tracks vehicles. It attaches with a magnet or permanent mount. It includes an accelerometer to provide additional data alongside GPS tracking.

Check out our picks for the best waterproof GPS trackers here: https://landairsea.com/blog/best-waterproof-gps-trackers/

Frequently Asked Questions About Satellite Tracking

What Power Sources Are Needed for Satellite Tracking?

Most portable satellite trackers use batteries rather than needing a power cable and access to a DC power source. Some devices have a built-in battery that can be recharged, for example, by 5V USB.

Others use ordinary replaceable batteries found in mainstream stores such as AAA Energizer. Some manufacturers recommend specific brands and models. For example, the makers of the SPOT Gen 4 recommend 4 AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium 8x batteries.

What Features Are Worth Having in Satellite Tracking Devices?

Alerts can be vital features, though there’s a trade-off between getting important warnings and risking information overload.

  • A low-battery message is a priority on GPS devices.
  • An automatically transmitted power-off message can warn colleagues or other contacts of potential problems.
  • Movement alerts are important with device or equipment trackers, as they immediately warn owners of potential theft. If you’re tracking a boat, a special dock mode will adjust the tracking to account for vessels’ movements on the water.

Does ‘Satellite Tracking’ Have Any Other Meanings?

Yes, “satellite tracking” has two other meanings, so watch out for confusion. One meaning is using satellite imagery to track something on a large scale. This reference could include agricultural conditions or animal movements such as migratory birds.

Another meaning is the hobby of tracking the movement of satellites in the sky. For example, enthusiasts may look for satellites that have been decommissioned or lost.

What Is Satellite Tracking - LandAirSea.com (2024)
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