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Feb 2018 | No Comment

China teams up with U.S. firms to build aviation navigation database

China’s top aviation regulator partnered with U.S. companies to develop the country’s aviation navigation database.

The air traffic management bureau with the Civil Aviation Administration of China inked a cooperation agreement with U.S. aviation solutions provider Jeppesen and industrial giant Honeywell to make a sound database for aviation navigation.

China is home to 235 civil airports, but only 66 of them can have their data coded into the aviation navigation database, posing risks to flight safety, according to Che Jinjun, head of the air traffic management bureau.

Navigation for aircrafts is more demanding than other transport vehicles in terms of data precision and timeliness. China has been addressing an incomplete aviation navigation database for several years and the partnership will help offer new solutions, according to Che.

Over 5.1 million flight were made last year, up 9.48 percent year-on-year, while flight punctuality rate fell by 5.09 percent year-on-year to 71.67 percent in 2017, official data showed. www.xinhuanet.com

Significant improvement over current spatial navigation tests

A powerful new tool for the study of spatial memory described in Nature as a significant improvement over the current gold standard, the Morris Water Maze. The novel Honeycomb Maze design allows for systematic analysis of the decisions an animal makes during navigation.

Spatial navigation tasks are used to study the way animals identify their location and navigate towards favourable, and away from unfavourable, locations in response to changes in the environment.

Professor John O’Keefe of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre at UCL, and 2014 Nobel laureate for the discovery of place cells, a class of neurons important for spatial sense, commented on the achievement:

The Honeycomb Maze was intentionally designed to overcome the drawbacks of other tests for spatial navigation and memory such as the T- or Y-maze, Olton radial arm maze, Barnes maze and Morris Water Maze. Professor O’Keefe describes the novel spatial navigation task:

“The Honeycomb Maze consists of 37 individually-movable platforms, which enables the confinement of an animal to a localised space anywhere in the maze and forces it to choose between two alternative paths to the goal. By choosing the path with the lesser deviation from the goalheading direction, the animal shows that it knows where the goal is and the best route to get there.” www.nature.com

Clemson researchers aim to stop cyber criminals from GPS hacking

Researchers at Clemson University are working on a project that could someday keep key infrastructure we depend on safe from a certain type of cyber attack. It has to do with vulnerabilities in GPS and digital time-keeping.

“If we cannot provide accurate time then the consequences would be catastrophic,” said Dr. Yongqiang Wang.

He is leading research at Clemson on how to prevent hackers from manipulating time on our digital networks and devices. Graduate student Mauz Ahmad explains right now that type of cyber attack is possible with a device like this $300 dollar software defined radio.

Why is that alarming?

For one, it can roll back time to gain digital access through old login information.

Two, an attack like that could mess with your GPS, making your phone think you’re in one spot when really you’re miles away.

GPS, after all, is based on satellite signals that are all linked to, you guessed it, time. And think of the consequences for ships at sea… Or trains in cities that depend on accurate location coordination.

Wang is quick to point out the U.S. military has its own secret code to verify GPS signals. His research is aimed at helping private industry, like our electric grid.

“They are pretty vulnerable,” he said. “So we wanted to come up with some solutions to make sure that the time you get is reliable.”

The research only just began, but by the end of the three-year project, the team hopes to be well on its way to providing a service that anyone can use to verify that GPS signals are accurate. http://counton2.com

NASA tests X-ray-based “Space- GPS” navigation system

A NASA team has demonstrated the viability of the idea with an experiment showing that a spacecraft can constantly and automatically calculate its position by tracking the perfectly-predictable X-ray signals from an array of pulsars.

When stars die, they collapse in on themselves, often becoming black holes. But not all stars follow the same fate. Those with a mass between 10 and 29 times that of our Sun tend to turn into a small, dense objects known as neutron stars. With very strong magnetic fields and very fast rotations, some neutron stars blast beams of electromagnetic radiation from their poles, and if Earth is in the path of those beams we can detect the signals as regular “pulses” – hence the name pulsars.

Since pulsars spin at a constant rate, their signals can be predicted with astonishing accuracy, and for the most precise examples –known as millisecond pulsars – they can be predicted years into the future, down to a scale of microseconds. That extreme regularity makes them perfect navigation tools, on the same level as the atomic clocks used to keep GPS satellites on track. The idea of navigating by these natural beacons has been kicking around since at least 2012, and in 2016 the European Space Agency released a detailed feasibility study that outlined just how pulsar navigation might work. Now, NASA has put it to the test in the real world in an experiment it calls the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT).

The agency used an observatory known as Neutron-star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), which is currently studying neutron stars and pulsars from its perch on the outside of the International Space Station. The observatory is equipped with 52 X-ray telescopes, allowing it to easily identify neutron stars across the universe by their X-ray emissions.

Running over two days in November 2017, the experiment homed in on four specific millisecond pulsars, and took 78 timing measurements. An onboard algorithm then stitched these together to pinpoint NICER’s location in space, and compared the results to the satellite’s GPS data gathered over the same time.

China sends twin BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into space

China has sent twin satellites into space on a single carrier rocket, as part of efforts to enable its BeiDou system to provide navigation and positioning services to countries along the Belt and Road by the end of 2018. www.xinhuanet.com

NAVIC to guide fishing boats

Deep sea fishing vessels putting out to sea from the Kerala coast very soon will be equipped with satellitebased navigational equipment.

The government is planning to promote large-scale manufacture of satellite navigational equipment to be supplied to fishermen as part of a project to ensure their safety in sea. The collaborative project with ISRO involves the use of NAVIC, India’s own regional satellite navigation system, to warn fishermen about weather events. ISRO has agreed to supply 500 NAVIC positioning- cum- communication sets to be fitted on fishing boats for the trial run.

A master control room to be established in Thiruvananthapuram will be at the heart of the early warning system. The facility would be equipped to gather information from orbiting satellites of ISRO as well as data generated by INCOIS and the IMD.

A data network will link the master control room with six regional control rooms located in the coastal areas that would disseminate information to fishermen in Malayalam through the NAVIC sets upto a distance of 1,500 km from the coast. www.thehindu.com

ComNav Technology releases new T300 Plus GNSS receiver

ComNav Technology has introduced its powerful T300 Plus GNSS receiver. Featuring full-constellation tracking capability, tilt compensation, 4G/ WiFi connection, 8 gigabyte internal memory and easy survey workflow with Android-based Survey Master Software, it is designed for demanding surveying tasks. Users can collect accurate data easier and faster no matter for beginners or professional surveyors, according to the company.

With two hot swap batteries, the receiver helps to extend working hours and ensures fluent workflow in the field.

DJI announces Mavic Air drone

Drone maker DJI has unveiled the “Mavic Air” stating that the new drone combines the “best features” of the Mavic series into an ultra-portable and foldable drone.

Mavic Air includes a 4K camera, QuickShot and SmartCapture modes for simpler photo and video capturing, and FlightAutonomy 2.0 with Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems to ensure safer flights. Mavic Air has a weight of 430 grams, and it can fold its arms and propellers to sit flush against its frame. www.macrumors.com

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