GLONASS Vs. GPS – What is the Difference?

The Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (Global Navigation Satellite System) is a Russian satellite-based operated system. GLONASS is operated by the Russian Aerospace Defense Force (RADF). It is very much like the GPS (Global Positioning System) invented by the US Army in 1978.

GLONASS Vs. GPS Navigation Systems

In 1976, the Soviet Union has started the development of GLONASS. It consumed a third of its 2010 budget and therefore It is the most expensive program of RADF. The first version of GLONASS did the tasks like the velocity measuring, weather positioning, and timing. It was available in all over the world! What? Really? But, how many people knew about it? Truly speaking, not a very big number outside the Soviet Union. After the fall of Soviet Union, the funding was not enough to take the project ahead. In 2001, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President declared a news to complete the project with top government priority and increased the funding massively. In 2007, Putin issued an official order to open GLONASS for public use without any restriction.

By 2010, the GLONASS got a cover of the total Russian territory. Since then, it has the World Wide Coverage. GLONASS has the coverage of over 24 satellites while GPS has the coverage of over 31 satellites.

Versions of GLONASS

The Russian Space Research Agency gave the information about 5 versions of GLONASS till the date:

GLONASS- This primary version was launched in 1982 and was intended to work for the velocity measuring, weather positioning, and timings for everyplace in the world and the nearby space to earth.

GLONASS-M- This version was launched in 2003 adding the second civil code. In addition, It was made for GIS mapping receivers.

GLONASS-K- In 2011, GLONASS-K launched with 3 types; K1, K2 and KM adding the third civil frequency and made for research, also.

GLONASS-K2- This version is not launched, yet. It will get to work in a near future.

GLONASS-KM- Launch is scheduled after 2025.

Difference between GLONASS and GPS

 The USA has developed GPS with a network of over 31 satellites covering our planet. Mobiles, navigators, and other commercial devices widely use GPS today. While GLONASS is developed by Russia and was started by the Soviet Union in 1976 originally. GLONASS has a network of over 24 satellites covering our earth.

It’s not like that GLONASS has a better accuracy than GPS because it doesn’t have strong coverage as GPS. But, when they both used together, it will certainly increase the accuracy with coverage. Probably, GLONASS is more useful in northern latitudes as it was originally started for Russia.

The combination of GLONASS+GPS gives you an access to almost 55 satellites. As a result, when you stuck between tallest buildings or in subways where GPS may work weaker, then you can track yourself accurately with GLONASS satellites. The modern smartphones come with the support to A-GPS and A-GLONASS. Both the GLONASS and GPS navigation systems have almost same features with each other. They differ at some particular points.

Check the below table showing the difference of GLONASS Vs. GPS:

Owner USA Russia
Satellites 31 24 (minimum)
Accuracy 3.5-7.8Meter position 5-10Meter position
Orbital Height 19130KM 21150KM
Orbital Period 11 Hours 58 Minutes 11 Hours 16 Minutes
Orbital Plane Inclination 55 Degree 64.8 Degree
Orbital Data Modified keplerian orbital elements every hour satellite position, acceleration and velocity every half hour
Frequency 1.57542GHz (L1) 1.602GHz (SP)
1.2276GHz (L2) 1.246GHz (SP)
Status Working Working


So, these were the differences between GLONASS and GPS systems. GLONASS is a top alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS). Also, both are the satellite-based navigation systems. Hence, the upgraded versions A-GLONASS and A-GPS obtain assistance data from the wireless communication network at a speed of 100Mbps. The microwave signals that transmitted by the satellites effects on the range of both navigation systems. Both the GLONASS and GPS are better than each other in some specific areas.

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