Jul 2019 | No Comment

NASA launches a Deep Space Atomic Clock

NASA launches Deep Space Atomic Clock on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched on June 24. It is similar to the atomic clocks found in GPS satellites but 50 times more stable. The technology will be a critical part of onboard navigation systems for future spacecraft and will work like the GPS you have in your car.

This represents a leap forward from today’s space travel, which doesn’t benefit from the GPS system used to navigate on Earth. Instead, human navigators guide spacecraft using signals that can take from minutes to hours to deliver directions. If the clock’s one-year technology demonstration goes well, future Deep Space Atomic Clocks could guide humans to Mars, even providing them GPS on the surface.

The Deep Space Atomic Clock is hosted on a spacecraft provided by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems of Englewood, Colorado. It is sponsored by the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Space Communications and Navigations program within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. JPL manages the project.

China launches latest Beidou satellite

A Long March 3B lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China sending a Beidou satellite toward an inclined geosynchronous orbit. The launch occurred within a window indicated by the issuance of an airspace closure notice days earlier. The mission involved the 21st satellite of the Beidou-3 rollout and the second to be placed in an inclined geosynchronous orbit.

Beidou-3 satellites form the third phase of construction of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which expands service coverage from regional to global. The new satellites also adopt inter-satellite link capabilities, new-generation rubidium atomic clocks and passive hydrogen maser clocks.

Permanent GNSS reference station at GLB, Burdwan, India

A permanent GNSS reference Station with Leica GR50 Multi-GNSS receiver (with NavIC L5) and AR25 Antenna has been established at GNSS Laboratory Burdwan (GLB), Department of Physics, The University of Burdwan, INDIA. This facility is also being used as a NTRIP caster transmitting RTCM 3.0 MSM 7 messages. The facility has been developed using financial support from All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and support from The University of Burdwan. The infrastructure would be used for GNSS research and GLB would also provide support to the industry.

Tesla Model S and Model 3 Prove Vulnerable to GPS Spoofing

Tesla Model S and Model 3, electric cars built for speed and safety, are vulnerable to cyber attacks aimed at their navigation systems, according to recent research from Regulus Cyber. During a test drive using Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot feature, a staged attack caused the car to suddenly slow down and unexpectedly veer off the main road. The research discovered the Tesla vulnerability during its ongoing study of the threat that easily accessible spoofing technology poses to GNSS receivers. It was found that spoofing attacks on the Tesla GNSS (GPS) receiver could easily be carried out wirelessly and remotely, exploiting security vulnerabilities in mission-critical telematics, sensor fusion, and navigation capabilities.

Regulus Cyber experts traveled to Europe as well to test-drive the Tesla Model 3 using Navigate on Autopilot. An active guidance feature for its Enhanced Autopilot platform, it’s meant to make following the route to a destination easier, which includes suggesting and making lane changes and taking interchange exits, all with driver supervision. While it initially required drivers to confirm lane changes using the turn signals before the car moved into an adjacent lane, current versions of Navigate on Autopilot allow drivers to waive the confirmation requirement if they choose, meaning the car can activate the turn signal and start turning on its own. Tesla emphasizes that “in both of these scenarios until truly driverless cars are validated and approved by regulators, drivers are responsible for and must remain ready to take manual control of their car at all times.”

Weird, bendy GPS signals for weather forecast

A new cluster of satellites will harness the GPS to help predict weather patterns, long-term climate change, and even crippling interference from solar flares. The same GPS signals we rely on to navigate through rush-hour traffic, find a restaurant, or track your kids can also be used to forecast when hurricanes form in tropical waters.

Known as the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (or COSMIC-2), the mission takes advantage of a weird property of GPS radio signals: They actually bend and slow down slightly as they travel through the atmosphere. This bending doesn’t affect the accuracy of navigation on the ground; it’s only visible from the side by something else in orbit. It’s a bit like what when you dip a pencil in a halffull glass of water and the image refracts slightly through the denser liquid.

The denser the atmosphere, the more the GPS radio wave bends. Once scientists get this information about density, they can figure out atmospheric moisture, pressure, and temperature at one-kilometer intervals. Getting this kind of granular information about what’s happening up and down the atmosphere is key to making weather prediction models more accurate.

Compared to other weather satellites, COSMIC-2 is a relative bargain at a cost of $250 million, half of which was paid by Taiwan, according to Schreiner. “It’s an order of magnitude less expensive,” he says. In comparison, NOAA’s four GOES geostationary weather satellites, the first of which launched in 2016, are costing taxpayers $11 billion and have had a few hiccups in space since then.

Navigation system problem compel regional airlines to ground flights

Regional airlines in the U.S. canceled flights after receiving error messages from navigation systems aboard some of their planes, the Federal Aviation Administration said recently. Mesa Airlines, which flies for American Airlines and United Airlines, as well as Delta Air Lines’ subsidiary Endeavor Air, United contractor GoJet, American Airlinesowned PSA Airlines and SkyWest are affected by the issue.

The US Army will soon test a new GPS that’s resistant to jamming

The US Army will soon test a jamresistant GPS to try and overcome the problem. GPS jamming can also be a major liability for US and allied forces, which depend on the system for everything from troop movement to missile and drone guidance. Last fall, the US and NATO allies launched a major joint exercise in Norway called Trident Juncture, to test the joint readiness and training of a large, multinational coalition. Over the course of the exercise, the military noticed that GPS signals were being jammed. In April 2018, US officials said that the Russian military had been jamming the GPS systems for is drones operating in Syria.

Members of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment located in Germany will get the devices this fall, and the Army is reportedly looking into developing a new generation of Inertial Navigational Systems that could be used as a back up.

Galileo tests its new urban mobility scheme

New urban mobility schemes are rapidly evolving due to social, economic and technological changes. Against this backdrop, the Galileo navigation system, can deliver new accuracy and reliability for location-dependent services that get people where they need to go. The Hellenic Institute of Transport is part of the Center for Research and Technology Hellas. Under the Galileo project, which encompasses a number of “Mobility as a Service”-oriented pilots, the institute is coordinating a pilot study in Thessaloniki, where citizens have the option to share a taxi with the help of a mobile phone app.

Galileo Masters 2019 announces submission phase

The 2019 edition of Galileo Masters has announced its submission phase on May 1. Since it began in 2004, the Galileo Masters has searched for the most progressive thinking applications based on satellite navigations and the desire to set benchmarks in space-related inventions across Europe. The last day for the submissions of applications is 31st July 2019. The Galileo Masters seeks to award applications, services and new ideas from healthcare and leisure to traffic management and other rails, sea, and air transport logistics, individuals and entire industries alike can benefit from satellite navigation.

Glonass to be used for railway fault detection in Lithuania

Lithuania’s state-run railway company Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) is buying an autonomous inspection vehicle whose technical specifications state it must be compatible with the Russian satellite navigation system Glonass.

Experts warns about possible threat to national security, but the company says the choice was made to ensure swift and accurate identification of a fault place and that needs technology whose receivers are capable of accepting and calculating the location from two satellites networks, GPS and Glonass.

Russia may create Glonass ground stations in Africa and Asia-Pacific region

Russia may place ground stations of its Glonass satellite navigation system on the territory of African and Asia-Pacific countries, State Space Corporation Roscosmos Deputy CEO for International Cooperation Sergei Savelyev said recently. In June this year, Russia completed the procedure of approving an intergovernmental agreement on outer space with Argentina. After it is signed, Roscosmos will be able to switch to the practical implementation of the project for placing a Glonass ground station on the territory of Argentina, he added.

Transit of Ukrainian Goods using Glonass

Transportation of Ukrainian goods by road and by rail via Russia is allowed again after Russian President Vladimir Putin amended a corresponding decree. However, Ukrainian trucks and railcars will be allowed through Russia only if they carry seals on vehicles and goods using the GLONASS technology only.

Drivers must have registration coupons, which will be canceled if the seal use procedure is violated. Seals are required for tracking goods so that they are not shipped to Russia. The new decree comes into force on July 1.

Glonass navigation satellites to switch to domestic components by 2023

Russia’s program of fully replacing foreign components in Glonass navigation satellites is due to be implemented before 2023, Chairman of the Roscosmos State Space Corporation’s Scientific and Technical Council Yuri Koptev told recently.

“A four-year program exists for the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company as the developer of Glonass satellites. The program has been agreed upon with the developers of the components base. Each year, the program defines a specific set of Russian components to replace foreign analogues,” Koptev said, adding that the program was designed for a period until 2023.

The program of replacing foreign components with domestic items was launched in 2018. It stipulates that Glonass satellites will carry no foreign components in the future, he noted.

Russia to transfer satellite that outlived original lifespan

A Russian Glonass-M navigation satellite that was launched in 2007 and has already exceeded its expected service life by 50 percent will be transferred to the orbital reserve A Russian Glonass-M navigation satellite that was launched in 2007 and has already exceeded its expected service life by 50 percent will be transferred to the orbital reserve on Wednesday, the Information and Analysis Center for Positioning, Navigation and Timing run by the Russian Central Research Institute of Machine Building said on Tuesday in a statement.

International resolution against Jamming & Spoofing

Fourteen maritime organizations have petitioned the U.S. Coast Guard to seek a resolution by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to address disruption of GNSS signals.

In a letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz the groups said: “GNSS signals have become an important part of all maritime operations. Interfering with them places the efficiency and safety of maritime operations at risk and can impact the safety of life.”

A recent report on Russian jamming and spoofing by the non-profit C4ADS, and work by the German Aerospace Center were cited as evidence GNSS interference is a global problem. The letter makes the point that when vessels in innocent passage through territorial seas are impacted, or a disruption is also felt in international waters, it becomes a multi-national concern.

Also, jamming and spoofing GNSS signals seems a clear violation of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) provisions to many. ITU Radio Regulation 19.2 states, “All transmissions with false or misleading identification are prohibited.” This could mean jamming and spoofing by a signatory nation is also a treaty violation. Recognizing that some nations are compelled for security reasons to disrupt GNSS signals upon occasion, the group called for warnings to vessels that might be impacted.

The letter called for a resolution by the International Maritime Organization that would include language to the effect that:

▪ GNSS signals are important to safety of navigation

▪ Member states should enact measures to prevent unauthorized transmissions on GNSS frequencies

▪ Member states should refrain from interfering with GNSS signals as much as possible, except when required for security reasons.

▪ Member states interfering with GNSS signals for security reasons should issue notices to mariners specifying the time periods and areas impacted to help minimize negative effects on maritime operations.

The letter was coordinated by the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation.

$45B is the cost for a 30- day GPS outage

In the event of a 30-day GPS outage, the United States could face up to $35 billion in economic losses, and that number could increase to $45 billion during prime planting seasons for farmers, according to a report written by RTI International and sponsored by the National Institute of Standards of Technology.

The report, the “Economic Benefits of the Global Positioning System (GPS),” estimates the potential impact of a GPS outage over a 30-day period, as specified by the Department of Commerce.

The report focuses on 10 industries: electricity, finance, location-bases services, mining, maritime, oil and gas, surveying, telecommunications, telematics, and agriculture. Government officials have warned of threats to GPS and how a successful attack on that technology would impact national security. Those threats include the ability of adversaries to jam or spoof radio frequency signals, disrupting military operations.

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