Atmospheric propagation delay

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Atmospheric Propagation Delay Definition

Atmospheric propagation delay, or simply propagation delay, refers to the bending of electromagnetic (EM) waves that travel through the atmosphere and affect GPS signals, leading to errors in the GPS system.

The delay is caused by the presence of atmospheric gases, including water vapor, as well as temperature and pressure variations in the atmosphere. As the EM waves propagate through these gases, they slow down and bend, which can cause errors in GPS measurements.

The propagation delay varies depending on several factors, such as the altitude of the GPS satellites, the geometry of the receiver-satellite link, and the characteristics of the atmosphere along the transmission path. It can be corrected using specialized techniques and models that take into account the atmospheric conditions and other factors.

In general, atmospheric propagation delay is a significant source of error for GPS systems, especially in challenging environments such as urban canyons, mountainous regions, and coastal areas where the atmosphere is often more variable and turbulent. By understanding and mitigating this effect, GPS users can achieve better accuracy and reliability in their navigational and positioning applications.

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