I hadn't realised that the Argos satellite network existed and animal trackers communicated with it.

Tracking technology.

Does anyone know how much it costs and what level of power is required to communicate with GPS satellites?

2 Answers 2


The closest thing to what you appear to be looking for is probably the Iridium satellite network. This system is used by tracking/data logging products that need to work pretty much everywhere (including the middle of the ocean where there is no cell coverage).

Examples of systems using Iridium include things like the Rock7 RockBLOCK. The link provides details of power/cost requirements

your host needs to supply a minimum of 100mA @ 5V.


Line rental costs £10.00 per month


Credits are used each time you transmit. 1 credit is used per 50 bytes (or part thereof) of message sent or received.

  • I am rushed today, with meeting after meeting, so no time for a long comment. I do look the look of this, although I note that it only accepts AT commands. Sure, you can send data that way, but it is somewhat hampering. I much prefer SkyWave’s products (they have since been bought out, but you can still buy their products). They are programmable in LUA, have some GPIO for direct connection of sensors, and have variants like one with a SIM card and one which is battery powered. They use the InmarSat BGAN network. Google for more – you won’t regret it :-)
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 12:54
  • And they let you define your message layouts. You send to their server (encrypted if desired), and then pick up messages from there. There's lots of fancy coding stuff for s/w devs. Yum yum
    – Mawg
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 12:56

Your question is based in a fundamentally erroneous premise.

Uplink communication to GPS satellites is not permitted, period. For public users and indeed most government ones, the system is downlink-only. It is intended to allow receivers to figure out where they are, but has no capability for sharing that information with others. For that, other means of communication are required.

The only people who are actually supposed to be transmitting uplink data to the satellites are the staff of the GPS Operation Center of the US Air Force, who manage them, and perhaps any authorized manufacturer or contractor personnel supporting that mission. The uplinked information would be satellite control commands, along with a catalog of data to be broadcast, which includes updates to base information receivers require to calculate a position fix, and also correlation-search hinting data on how all of the satellites are moving across the sky.

Note that the GPS system mentioned in your link for tracking songbirds is actually a recording system, not a realtime tracking one

Marra and Hallworth tagged ovenbirds from both Maryland and New Hampshire in June 2013 and recaptured them in April and May 2014 to download the GPS data.

They had to actually retrieve the recorders to find out where they had been.

  • Good spot, however Polar orbiting satellites collecting data : flying at an orbit of 850 km above the earth pick up the signals and store them on-board and relay them in real-time back to earth.
    – SeanJ
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 0:48
  • I changed the link which I thought was referring to Argos upload as found on another source. My question is on the first link to Argos : the Argos transmitters upload short duration messages (of less than one second) to Argos instruments on satellites that pass overhead at an altitude of 850 km
    – SeanJ
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 1:00
  • It sounds like you are trying to ask a different question than you started with - something you aren't really allowed to do on SE sites especially once there are answers to the original question. Argos is not GPS, but its own system with an uplink component. As a guess, it's also not one authorized for random personal or commercial use, but rather likely limited to approved research studies. Likely the technical requirements will be made clear during the approval process. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 1:39
  • 1
    The question hasn't changed. The link was meant to illustrate the use of Argos type satellite systems but it didn't so I changed it. As you rightly pointed out it wasn't for uplink devices which I missed.
    – SeanJ
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 8:01

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