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What is GPSTk?

The goal of the GPSTk project is to provide an open source library and suite of applications to the satellite navigation community--to free researchers to focus on research, not lower level coding.

GPS users employ practically every computational architecture and operating system. Therefore the design of the GPSTk suite is as platform-independent as possible. Platform independence is achieved through use of the ISO-standard C++ programming language. The principles of object-oriented programming are used throughout the GPSTk code base in order to ensure that the code is modular, extensible and maintainable.

The GPSTk suite consists of a core library, auxiliary libraries, and a set of applications. The GPSTk provides a wide array of functions that solve processing problems associated with GNSS such as processing or using standard formats such as RINEX. The libraries are the basis for the more advanced applications distributed as part of the GPSTk suite.

The GPSTk is sponsored by Space and Geophysics Laboratory, within the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin (ARL:UT). GPSTk is the by-product of GPS research conducted at ARL:UT since before the first satellite launched in 1978; it is the combined effort of many software engineers and scientists. In 2003, the research staff at ARL:UT decided to open source much of their basic GNSS processing software as the GPSTk.

GPSTk Core Library

The GPSTk core library provides the most robust, broadly useful, and platform independent code in the GPSTk. It provides a number of models and algorithms found in GNSS textbook and classic papers, such as solving for the user position or estimating atmospheric refraction. Common formats are supported as well, such as RINEX or SP3. There are several categories of function that provide the base functionality for the GPSTk applications and for a number of other independent projects:

  1. Time Representation. Conversion among time representations such as MJD, GPS week and seconds of week, and many others.
  2. Ephemeris calculations. Position and clock interpolation for both broadcast and precise ephemerides.
  3. Atmospheric delay models. Includes ionosphere and troposphere models.
  4. Position solution. Includes an implementation of a Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring algorithm.
  5. Mathematics. Includes Matrix and Vector implementations, as well as interpolation and numerical integration.
  6. GNSS data structure. Data structures that contain observations mapped to satellites.
  7. Application framework. Includes processing command lines options, providing interactive help and working with file systems.

A more detailed description of the functionality provided by the GPSTk library can be found in the Doxygen documentation.

The GPSTk Core Library and its associated test programs can be built independently of building the GPSTk Applications or Auxiliary Libraries. The GPSTk Core Library source code contains no dependencies outside of the GPSTk Core Library and Standard C++ and will build cleanly on all supported platforms.

GPSTk Applications

The libraries are the foundation for applications within the GPSTk suite. The applications support greater depth of functionality to support research and development. The applications are almost entirely console based (i.e., without a graphical user interface). They can be grouped functionally into a number of categories.

  1. RINEX utilities The RINEX utilities provide a set of applications that can be used to examine, manipulate, and plot RINEX observation files.
  2. Positioning The positioning applications include two different applications that perform standard pseudorange-based positioning and two that implement differential phase-based solutions.
  3. Residual analysis A residual analysis application computes two types of measurement residuals using a single receiver or two receivers in a zero baseline configuration.
  4. Ionospheric modeling The ionospheric modeling applications utilize the two frequency TEC estimate from the RINEX utilities and compute a model of the ionosphere.
  5. Signal Tracking Simulation These utilities simulate the tracking of GPS C/A and P-code.
  6. Basic transformations Conversions of time and coordinate systems.
  7. Observation data collection and conversion Translating receiver specific data formats to RINEX.
  8. File comparison and validation Differing observations files against a truth source.
  9. Data editing Simple editing like systematic removal of observations by satellite, type or time and more advanced editing like cycle slip detection and correction.
  10. Autonomous and relative positioning Navigation and surveying applications.

The GPSTk applications are dependent on the GPSTk libraries. However, the GPSTk Applications may also contain external dependencies. Some applications may not build or run successfully on all the supported platforms.

See the GPSTkDirectoryStructure for additional details regarding the organization of the GPSTk.

For additional details on GPSTk Applications, please review the UsersGuide.

Latest Pre-Compiled Binaries

To download the latest pre-compiled binaries, click here and choose the right download file.

NOTE: Windows users will need the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable Package for Visual Studio 2012 to use the binaries, which can be found here.


The source code provided by the GPSTk is distributed under the GNU LGPL. This license gives all users the right to use and redistribute the code. Users of the GPSTk are not required to open their source, according to the LGPL. This makes the GPSTk a practical choice for commercial projects.


If you use the GPSTk to produce an article or thesis, please reference the following article to credit the GPSTk project.

Brian Tolman, R. Benjamin Harris, Tom Gaussiran, David Munton, Jon Little, Richard Mach, Scot Nelsen, Brent Renfro, ARL:UT; David Schlossberg, University of California Berkeley. "The GPS Toolkit -- Open Source GPS Software." Proceedings of the 17th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS 2004). Long Beach, California. September 2004

For LaTeX users, here is a BibTeX entry for that citation.

Contact Info

The GPSTk is a collaborative effort. However, you can email to gpstk@arlut.utexas.edu or contact one of the CoreTeam members.

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