Jun 2015 | No Comment

GAGAN fully operationalized

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 25 May 2015 announced the complete operationalisation of the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN). The final operational phase of the system commenced on 19 May 2015 as it began broadcasting APV1 Certified signals.With this, India has become the fourth nation after the US, Europe and Japan to have inter-operable Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS). Also, GAGAN is the first SBAS system in the world to serve the equatorial region.

Earlier on 30 December 2013, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gave its nod for GAGAN for enroute operations (RNP 0.1) and subsequently on 21 April 2015 for precision approach services (APV 1). While the GAGAN Payload is already operational through GSAT-8 and GSAT-10 satellites, the third payload will be carried onboard GSAT-15 satellite scheduled for launch in October 2015.

New Airbus A350 Airliner fitted with EGNOS

The ESA-developed EGNOS system for sharpening the accuracy of satellite navigation across Europe has been adopted by a growing number of airports to enable satellite-guided landing approaches. The new Airbus A350 airliner, currently entering service, comes fitted with EGNOS as standard. This allows pilots to perform precision landing approaches guided by EGNOS or its US equivalent WAAS, offering vertical guidance down to a minimum of 60m before the pilot sights the ground to make the go/no-go decision on the final landing descent. The result is that the EGNOS-augmented signals are guaranteed to meet the extremely high performance standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard, adapted for Europe by Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. A total of 131 airports in Europe offer some 225 EGNOS-based approach procedures. By 2020, 582 landing procedures are expected across 20 European countries. The largest international airports use Instrument Landing System (ILS) infrastructure, with radio beams offering a truly precision landing capability, including the ability to ‘autoland’ when visibility is at its worst. But ILS is expensive to install and maintain, so smaller regional airports often forego it. The same is true of many new or expanding airports.

Exelis, UrsaNav, the Dept. of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard enter into agreement

Exelis, UrsaNav, Inc., the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), and the U.S. Coast Guard have entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) for testing and demonstration at former LORAN-C sites. These sites are the legacy groundbased radio navigation infrastructure of the decommissioned LORAN-C service that could be retained and upgraded to provide eLORAN low frequency service.

Under the CRADA, Exelis will use the former LORAN-C assets to put eLORAN signals in space for research, test and demonstration of the ability of eLORAN to meet precise positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) requirements of government and privately-owned critical infrastructure.

No imported components in construction of Glonass

JSC “Russian Space Systems” (RCC), together with ISS Reshetnev, plan to remove imported components in construction of GLONASS satellites. Production of the advanced GLONASS satellite “GLONASS-K” is scheduled to begin later this year.

According JSC CEO Andrew Tyulina, the company intends to stop the use of foreign electronic components as soon as possible. The plan is to have 80 percent of the satellites’ electronic components payload be domestically produced by 2019.

The expected component supplier will be the largest designer and manufacturer of electronic components in Russia, Roselectronika, an entity that unites 112 companies, research institutes and design bureaus. The total investment in Roselectronika will exceed 210 billion rubles to 2020, including provision for modernizing industrial sites that produce electronic payloads for space.

Lotte World Tower to Use GNSS

Lotte world Tower, which is currently under construction in Jamsil, Seoul, will become the nation’s first building to use the GNSS. This technology is currently used in the Burj Khalifa of Dubai and One World Trade Center in New York. The 2nd Lotte World Safety Management Committee held a conference recently for construction technology with the theme of “technology of measurement and a straightness management system for the Lotte World Tower skyscraper”.

Centimeter-accurate’ softwarebased GPS positioning developed

Now researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a centimeter-accurate, software-based GPS-based positioning system, using existing smartphone GPS chips, which they claim is capable of drone package delivery down to a “specific spot on someone’s back porch.” It could also boost collision avoidance in cars and enable outdoor use of virtual reality headsets. The researchers also claim that when paired with a smartphone camera, it can build a 3D reference map of the surroundings, much in the same way Ford’s LIDAR system and other autonomous vehicles do the same.

For now, the system, dubbed GRID, extracts carrier-phase measurements from low-cost antennas and operates outside the phone, but could eventually run on the phone’s internal processor. Currently the system delivers both position and orientation information to less than one degree of measurement accuracy, which is more than enough for real-world VR use, 3D mapping, and collision avoidance systems.

RFP for GPS III launch services

The U.S. Air Force released a draft request for proposal (RFP) for GPS III Launch Services, including launch vehicle production, mission integration, and launch operations. The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation may well enter the competition.

On May 26 the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions. It is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers.

Sea Surface mapping with GNSS Radio Occultation

A new concept that involves mounting an instrument on the International Space Station and taking advantage of signals from navigation satellites could provide measurements of sea-surface height and information about features related to ocean currents, benefiting science and ocean forecasting.

In 2011 the European Space Agency (ESA) called for proposals to explore how the Space Station could be used to make scientifically valid observations of Earth. After reviewing and assessing numerous proposals, the result is to further develop the GEROS-ISS mission concept, which stands for GNSS reflectometry, radio occultation and scatterometry on board the ISS. GPS and Galileo satellites send a continual stream of microwave signals to Earth for navigation purposes, but these signals also bounce off the surface and back into space.

The idea is to install an instrument with an antenna on the Space Station that would capture signals directly from these satellites as well as signals that are reflected or scattered from Earth. This process could be used to calculate the height of the sea surface, and to measure waves — or “roughness” — that can then be used to work out the speed of surface winds.

Russian Glonass welcomed in Vietnam

Vietnam has been using GPS. If the negotiations succeed and Russia can place Glonass in Vietnam and three other countries, Cuba, Nicaragua and China, this will benefit Vietnamese users because it offers more choices for them.

Russia, China Agree on Joint Exploitation of Glonass

The heads of Russia’s Federal Space Agency and China’s Satellite Navigation Office signed a joint statement on the joint exploitation of the BeiDou and Glonass. The document was signed by Igor Komarov and Wang Li in Moscow.

Nicaragua approves Glonass

Nicaragua has approved the implementation of an agreement with Russia that authorizes the establishment of satellite ground stations in the Central American country. In 2012, Managua and Moscow inked an agreement to cooperate on space exploration and activities, including land installations for GLONASS.

The CALIBRA project

The CALIBRA project recently showcased a commercially applicable approach to mitigate the phenomenon’s impact on high-accuracy GNSS positioning techniques. In two demonstrations, the project’s newly developed algorithm was successfully tested in actual precision agriculture and offshore operations. Solar flares can cause ionospheric disturbance, a sudden increase in radiowave absorption that often delays the propagation of signals and ultimately affects positioning. The problem has kept researchers busy for years.

The CALIBRA project team has been participating in this global research effort by focusing on Brazil, which is one of the most exposed regions due to its proximity to the magnetic equator. The project achieved three main milestones. First, the team confirmed that ionospheric scintillation and variations in total electron content (TEC) had a direct impact on the functioning of high accuracy GNSS techniques, such as Precise Point positioning (PPP) and real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning. Then a suitable metric was established to characterize these ionospheric disturbances. Finally, the project produced a short-term empirical model for forecasting TEC and scintillation. A regional TEC map was developed which proved advantageous for use in Brazil and, to counter scintillation, a number of approaches for the mitigation of this phenomenon were proposed and their benefit demonstrated.

A ‘GPS’ to Navigate the Brain’s Neuronal Networks

In new research published by Nature Methods, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University have announced a “Neuronal Positioning System” (NPS) that maps the circuitry of the brain, similar to how a GPS receiver triangulates one’s location on the planet. For more than a century, neuroscientists have tried to uncover the structure of the brain’s neuronal circuits in order to better understand how the brain works. These brain circuits, which perform functions such as processing information and triggering reflexes, are composed of nervous system cells called neurons that work together to carry out a specialised function. Neurons send the messages to other neurons, or to target tissues such as skin and muscle that they innervate, via specialised wire-like processes called axons.

In the same way that we need to know the exact wiring of an electrical circuit to understand how it works, it’s necessary to map the axonal wiring of neuronal circuits to understand how they function. Therefore a fundamental goal of neuroscience research is to understand the structural and functional connections of the brain’s circuits.

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