Apr 2019 | No Comment

UK makes major breakthrough in atomic clocks

Researchers from the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough in developing atomic clocks, which could mean accessing a satellite signal would be unnecessary. Dr Alessia Pasquazi from the EPic Lab explained the breakthrough:

“With a portable atomic clock, an ambulance, for example, will be able to still access their mapping whilst in a tunnel, and a commuter will be able to plan their route whilst on the underground or without mobile phone signal in the countryside. Portable atomic clocks would work on an extremely accurate form of geo-mapping, enabling access to your location and planned route without the need for satellite signal."

“Our breakthrough improves the efficiency of the part of the clock responsible for counting by 80%,” Dr Pasquazi added, saying it was a step forward “to seeing portable atomic clocks replacing satellite mapping, like GPS”. Unfortunately, this won’t happen by the time the UK is cut off from accessing Galileo by the time the country leaves the EU – with Dr Pasquazi estimating that it could happen “within 20 years”.

Russia regularly spoofs regional GPS?

A large-scale analysis of global positioning data has discovered widespread Russian spoofing over the past three years of the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) used by ships and autonomous vehicle systems to find their positions and safely chart courses, according to a new report – published by the Center for Advanced Defense (C4ADS), a nonprofit intelligence firm focused on worldwide security issues — found that at least 9,883 instances of spoofing occurred.

The findings underscore the dangers of relying on global positioning data, such as that provided by the global positioning system and similar technology across the globe, because the service can be disrupted or co-opted to deliver false data.

The attacks highlight the vulnerability of satellite navigation systems and the fact that their disruption is far more widespread than originally thought. For at least a decade, a smattering of media reports covered the problems of ships near Russia having navigational difficulties.

Russia plans to launch Glonass-M satellite in mid-May

Russia plans to launch a Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit in mid-May. “The launch of a Glonass-M navigation satellite has been tentatively planned in mid-May from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome for maintaining the performance of the orbital constellation,” Sputnik news agency quoted a source in the aerospace industry as saying. Currently, the Glonass constellation includes 26 satellites with 22 of them performing their intended navigation functions.

Orbital constellation of Russian GLONASS restored

All 24 GLONASS satellites that the orbital constellation of the Russian satellite navigation system needs to ensure global coverage are once again operational as two satellites, which were removed for technical maintenance, have been put back into service, the Information and Analysis Center for Positioning, Navigation and Timing of the Russian Central Research Institute for Machine Building (TsNIIMash) said.

Scisys praises decision to become Irish

Scisys Group, a formerly British company involved in the European Union’s Galileo satellite program, says its change of headquarters from Chippenham, England, to Dublin, Ireland, was immediately positive for its space business. Scisys is a subcontractor to Thales Alenia Space France and Spain’s GMV on the ground segment of the Galileo navigation satellite system. The United Kingdom’s ongoing exit from the European Union jeopardized Scisys’ business related to Galileo and other European Union programs such as the Copernicus environmental monitoring satellites.

In an annual financial report issued March 28, Scisys said re-domiciling the company in Ireland in November preserved its role in Galileo and kept the company financially healthy.

EU to remove major security system Galileo from British shores

The European Commission announced that it will withdraw two stations from the Galileo in the British Falklands and Ascension Isles.

The critical infrastructure operated by the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) deals with security threats, cryptographic material and EU classified information.

Brussels says the system cannot be located in a “third country” which the UK will become following its withdrawal from the European Union. In a statement, the Commission added the decision is part of the “necessary steps” to ensure business continuity and to preserve Galileo’s security following Brexit.

Galileo Service Centre operations transferred to Spaceopal

Responsibility for in-depth troubleshooting and problem resolution of the GSC Ground Infrastructure has been transferred from a European GNSS Agency (GSA)-held European GNSS Service Centre (GSC) infrastructure contract to Spaceopal and its core team member DLR GfR, responsible in the Galileo Service Operator (GSOp) industrial organization also for L2/L3 maintenance activity.

This contract extends for 10 years.

The transfer occurred after Spaceopal successfully passed the Maintenance Handover Review (MHOR) for the Level 2 and 3 Maintenance of the GSC in Torrejón de Ardoz, outside Madrid, Spain.

Spaceopal is a joint venture between DLR Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen (GfR) mbH, a full subsidiary of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), and the Italian firm Telespazio S.p.A. Both parties contribute their respective Galileo Control Centers in Oberpfaffenhofen and Fucino.

Israel Aerospace Industries releases anti-jammer for ground GNSS systems

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has unveiled ADA-O, a new version of its ADA system that prevents GNSS signals from being jammed. ADA-O is designed for armored vehicles and other larger land and sea platforms. According to the company, it can be integrated with ease to protect navigation, telecommunications, command-and-control and other systems.

The land platform can be readily integrated in a range of platforms, providing a unique operational response to helps telecom, navigation and C&C systems, the company added.

Creating GNSS around Moon

Russian and US scientists are in talks on the creation of a global navigation system around the Moon similar to GLONASS and GPS, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) Yury Balega told TASS after the visit of the RAS delegation to the NASA headquarters.

“In the framework of studying the Earth’s natural satellite, US colleagues suggested developing a joint navigation system around the Moon, similar to GPS or GLONASS, so that all participants in Moon exploration projects can use it,” Balega said. The RAS delegation led by RAS President Alexander Sergeyev is currently in the United States on a working visit. On March 12 RAS signed an agreement with the US National Academy of Sciences on cooperation in the sphere of scientific, engineering and medical research.

“During our visit to NASA, we have discussed the programs for exploring the Moon and Venus. American partners said that they consider the Venus program predominantly Russian-led and think that Russia’s contribution to it should thus stand at 70-80%.

We talked about different options of exploring Venus’s atmosphere, including launching a flying apparatus – a drone – into the high layers of Venus’s atmosphere, in order to study its chemical composition,” Balega said.

Europe and India coming together @ Galileo Hackathon

On 16 and 17 March 2019, over 80 programmers from universities and enterprises all over India gathered in 20 teams to join the Galileo Hackathon by at PES University, Bangalore. Teams worked throughout the night to use Galileo, the European global satellite-based navigation system, for an application to support smart cities, smart mobility, health or vulnerable citizens. The top-three participants walked home with cash prizes of respectively 160k, 80k and 40k Indian Rupees:

▪ NavPro (PES University) – Rail Unfail GNSS-based maintenance system that geotags potential fault locations on railway tracks

▪ Phoenix (Vignan Institute of Information and Technology) – Farm Along Online market place bridging farmers and buyers with secure tracking and supply chain

▪ Hex-GNSS (Hexagon/Novatel) – Perk for Park App which will identify the imbalance in parking supply & demand to offer lending and availing of public and private parking lots in big cities

Throughout their challenge, participants received mentorship by experts from the private sector (Volvo Trucks, Citrix, IBM, Magnasoft), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the European GNSS Agency (GSA), PES University and Burdwan University.

Their solution will be evaluated by a jury consisting of the above organisations and accomplished entrepreneurs.

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