Feb 2017 | No Comment

Galileo satellites experiencing multiple clock failures

The onboard atomic clocks that drive the satellite-navigation signals on Europe’s Galileo network have been failing at an alarming rate. Across the 18 satellites now in orbit, nine clocks have stopped operating. Three are traditional rubidium devices; six are the more precise hydrogen maser instruments. Galileo was declared up and running in December.

Prof Jan Woerner, the director general of the European Space Agency (Esa), told a meeting with reporters: “Everybody is raising this question: should we postpone the next launch until we find the root cause, or should we launch?

Each Galileo satellite carries two rubidium and two hydrogen maser clocks. The multiple installation enables a satellite to keep working after an initial failure.All 18 spacecraft currently in space continue to operate, but one of them is now down to just two clocks. Most of the maser failures (5) have occurred on the satellites that were originally sent into orbit to validate the system, whereas all three rubidium stoppages are on the spacecraft that were subsequently launched to fill out the network. Esa staff at its technical centre, ESTEC, in the Netherlands are trying to isolate the cause the of failures – with the assistance of the clock (Spectratime of Switzerland) and satellite manufacturers (Airbus and Thales Alenia Space; OHB and SSTL). It is understood engineers have managed to restart another hydrogen clock that had stopped.

3 atomic clocks fail on 1 Indian satellite, replacement prepped

Three atomic clocks onboard a single satellite of the NAVIC Indian regional navigation satellite system have failed.

According to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar, the agency is trying to restart the clocks. Kumar said the affected satellite, IRNSS-1A, is otherwise healthy, and the rest of the constellation is performing its core function ofproviding accurate position, navigation and time. Sometime back, European Space Agency discussed clock failures on board Galileo satellites. Rubidium atomic clocks onboard both constellations were manufactured by Spectratime of Switzerland, but the cause of the failures has not been identified and could involve factors other than clock design.

The ISRO is readying one of the two backup navigation satellites — IRNSS-1H — to replace it in space in the second half of this year. IRNSS-1A was launched in July 2013 and has an expected lifespan of 10 years.

Boost for sat nav positioning accuracy anywhere in world

A project exploiting Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to establish the blueprint for the world’s most accurate real-time positioning service is to run at the University of Nottingham.

The service, to be developed at prototype level, will benefit safety-critical industries like aviation and maritime navigation, as well as high accuracy dependent applications such as offshore drilling and production operations, dredging, construction, agriculture and driverless cars and drones, just to name a few. The EU-funded TREASURE project, will integrate signals from satellite navigation systems such as GPS, launched by the US, alongside Russia’s GLONASS, China’s BeiDou and Europe’s new Galileo system.

Combining these different satellite systems to operate together is a new development known as multi-GNSS, which is key to provide instantaneous, high accuracy positioning anywhere in the world. The four-year project will focus on a service that will take the current use of GNSS – normally based on just one or two systems – to the next level, to provide accuracy of a few centimetres in real time, opening up a multitude of new possibilities.

Russia, China Work on Joint High- Precision SATNAV System

Russia and China are in the process of setting up a joint Differential s
Corrections and Monitoring (SDCM) high-precision satellite navigation system, China National Space Administration (CNSA) chief representative in Russia Zhang Yuan said.

Plans for the system were first mentioned in 2015. In September, the Russian Space Systems (RSS) company said talks were ongoing. RSS deputy head engineer Grigory Stupak said that high precision would be achieved by expanding the two countries’ network of SDCM system stations working with the Russian Glonass and Chinese BeiDou satellite navigation systems. The system, intended for use by the BRICS group of countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, is planned to have a positioning accuracy of around 1 meter (3.3 feet) and will start with the creation of three Russian stations in China and three Chinese stations in Russia. Further 46 SDCM ground stations are planned to be constructed in Russia and eight more on its neighboring countries’ territories.

Glonass Satellite Navigation Station in Nicaragua

Experts from the Russian Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) will construct a ground Glonass satellite navigation tracking station in Nicaragua. The implementation of the project started in November 2014 and the contract on construction of the station was signed in August 2015. Glonass is the Russian version of the GPS, a global navigation satellite system meant to fix the location and speed of surface, sea and air objects to within an accuracy of one meter.

Netherlands employs GNSS monitoring for rail

The Dutch state-owned rail company NS Groep N.V. is deploying a real-time remote diagnostics monitoring system. As a core component of NS’ overall real-time monitoring architecture, the system allows railway operators to streamline maintenance costs and provide efficiencies across their fleet by automating manual tasks.

NS in the Netherlands will join a growing number of large rail operators that have implemented GNSS solutions, in this case the Trimble R2M system. Others using R2M include South West Trains in the United Kingdom, Irish Rail, SNCF France, SBB Switzerland and VR Finland. R2M processes diagnostic data from rail vehicles in real time. It provides a comprehensive view of the overall fleet’s status including specific vehicle faults. The system also identifies potential faults that may arise while analyzing and detecting anomalies in on-vehicle component behavior to identify component issues and the possible impact this behavior may have on the vehicle and overall fleet.

China to launch Beidou-3 navigation satellite in July

Chinese navigation satellite Beidou-3 is scheduled to be launched in July 2017, according to its developer, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The company claimed that six to eight satellites will be deployed within the year. Five experimental Beidou global navigation satellites have been launched since 2015, according to Guo Shuren, assistant to the chief engineer of the Beidou-2. Based on experimental verification, a basic plan for the Beidou-3 satellite system has already been confirmed, Guo added.

Esri India launches GIS Academia Council, GIS Innovation Hub

Esri India has launched GIS Academia Council of India. The council will serve as a platform for GIS knowledge sharing aimed at encouraging GIS adoption and promoting teaching excellence in spatial data management and analysis in higher education across India.

Universities like IIT Delhi, JNU, SP Pune University, Symbiosis institute of Geoinformatics, UPES, CEPT, BITS Pilani, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, IIEST, PEC, Manipal University-Jaipur, Sarsuna college and MG Kashi Vidyapeeth have become the members of the council.

T-Hub, India’s growing start-up engine launched the ‘GIS Innovation Hub’ (GIH) for the start-ups. The GIH is powered by Esri India. The facility was inaugurated by Jack Dangermond, Co-founder, President and CEO of Esri Inc. The GIH will be a platform for start-ups within T-Hub ecosystem, to leverage the power of GIS through Esri India. As a part of the partnership, Esri India will be inducting the start-ups into a three-year program where they would get free access to Esri’s ArcGIS, a cloud-based mapping platform, software development tools and ready-to-use content. It will provide training and technical support as well.

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