GPS News


Mar 2012 | No Comment



FCC Statement on Lightsquared and GPS

“To drive economic growth, job creation, and to promote competition, the FCC has been focused on freeing up spectrum for mobile broadband. This includes our efforts to remove regulatory barriers that preclude the use of spectrum for mobile services. To advance these goals, the Commission runs open processes – the success of which relies on the active, timely, and full participation of all stakeholders. “LightSquared’s proposal to provide ground-based mobile service offered the potential to unleash new spectrum for mobile broadband and enhance competition. The Commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted. This is why the Conditional Waiver Order issued by the Commission’s International Bureau prohibited LightSquared from beginning commercial operations unless harmful interference issues were resolved. “NTIA, the federal agency that coordinates spectrum uses for the military and other federal government entities, has now concluded that there is no practical way to mitigate potential interference at this time. Consequently, the Commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared. The International Bureau of the Commission is proposing to (1) vacate the Conditional Waiver Order, and (2) suspend indefinitely LightSquared’s Ancillary Terrestrial Component authority to an extent consistent with the NTIA letter. A Public Notice seeking comment on NTIA’s conclusions and on these proposals will be released tomorrow. “This proceeding has revealed challenges to maximizing the opportunities of mobile broadband for our economy. In particular, it has revealed challenges to removing regulatory barriers on spectrum that restrict use of that spectrum for mobile broadband. This includes receivers that pick up signals from spectrum uses in neighboring bands. There are very substantial costs to our economy and to consumers of preventing the use of this and other spectrum for mobile broadband. Congress, the FCC, other federal agencies, and private sector stakeholders must work together in a concerted effort to reduce regulatory barriers and free up spectrum for mobile broadband. Part of this effort should address receiver performance to help ensure the most efficient use of all spectrum to drive our economy and best serve American consumers.”

— FCC–

LightSquared to be blocked by US on Interference Report

The U S Federal Communications Commission vowed to block LightSquared Inc. after the Obama administration found the wireless venture backed by hedge-fund billionaire Philip Falcone would disrupt navigation gear. Federal agencies determined that LightSquared’s signals interfere with global-positioning system devices, Tammy Sun,an FCC spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. The agency is preparing to withdraw the preliminary approval it granted last year for the company to build a high-speed network serving as many as 260 million people, Sun said. “The commission clearly stated from the outset that harmful interference to GPS would not be permitted,” Sun said. “The commission will not lift the prohibition on LightSquared.” The FCC’s action marks a blow to LightSquared and a setback for Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners (SKYT) hedge fund, which has invested $3 billion in the venture. It follows a yearlong lobbying fight between LightSquared and opposing GPS companies that featured a series of government tests denounced by LightSquared as flawed.

LightSquared broadband plan questioned by GPS experts

A DOT official’s testimony in a House Aviation Subcommittee hearing called LightSquared’s data plan completely incompatible with GPS. There has also been a call for new GPS interference standards. The House Subcommittee on Aviation, which is part of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives, held hearings Feb. 8 regarding the critical nature of GPS to aviation in the United States, and the issues raised LightSquared’s plans to implement a broadband data service on frequency band adjacent to the country’s GPS signal. The hearing was intended to determine whether legislation is required to protect GPS from interference by LightSquared or similar uses that could prevent GPS receivers from working properly. “LightSquared’s proposals are fundamentally incompatible with GPS use,” said John Porcari, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. During his testimony, Porcari said that LightSquared’s original and its many revised plans all adversely affect GPS, and that researchers have not been able to find a way to mitigate the interference. Porcari added that most aircraft, including airliners, use GPS in a variety of ways, including basic navigation, terrain avoidance, precision landing and efficient routing. He said that losing GPS would cost the federal government and the
Meanwhile, LightSquared has filed a declaratory ruling that commercial GPS receivers are not deserving of legal protection from interference from LightSquared’s data service. If the Federal Communications Commission made such a ruling, it would effectively declare that GPS users, including the airlines, emergency services and ordinary users would have no recourse when they couldn’t use their GPS devices for navigation, surveying, timing or all of the other users that have been developed for GPS. economy billions of dollars. Pocari testified that the LightSquared proposals should not go forward, and he said that the DOT would work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop standards for avoiding GPS interference in the future. He said that the standards would let future users of the spectrum know in advance what uses would and would not be compatible with GPS.

GNSS User Meet organized by ISRO

ISRO organized A Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) User Meet on February 23, 2012at ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore. Dr.T.K.Alex, Member, Space Commission and Director, ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) inaugurated the meet. Shri.E.K.Bharat Bhushan, Director General, DGCA and over 250 delegates from government, industry, and academia participated in the meet. An overview of GAGAN and IRNSS navigation projects was presented by Shri.A.S.Ganeshan, Project Director, Navigation Systems. According to some of the news covered in The Hindu, 24X7Bulletin ISRO may start placing the satellites by the end of this year. Eminent experts in satellite based navigation presented their experiences and expertise on utilising the navigation signals for precise positioning and civil aviation and several other services during technical session. On the other hand panel discussion with the theme “Opportunities and Challenges in utilising navigation signals over Indian region” was chaired by Shri. S K Shiva Kumar, Associate Director, ISAC with members from academia, industry and ISRO participating in it.

$12 billion for Glonass

Russia may spend 346.5 billion rubles (almost $12 bln) on its Glonass satellite navigation system in 2012-2020. Kommersant space agency Roscosmos and economics ministry had agreed on a draft development program for the Glonass project, and it had already been submitted for government’s approval in late January. The expense layout includes 146.9 billion rubles ($5 billion) to support the system and 138.3 billion rubles ($4.6 billion) to develop it.

Russia to launch two Glonass Satellites in 2012

According to the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, two Glonass satellites will be launched in 2012 to expand global satellite navigation network in orbit. “We are planning to carry out two Glonass satellites this year,” said Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin. There is a group of 31 Glonass satellite in the orbit in which 24 are providing global coverage. 4 satellites are in reserve and one is undergoing trials. Glonass is designed for both military as well as civilian uses and Russia may spend 346.5 billion rubles (almost $12 bln) on the maintenance and development of its network in 2012-2020.

Beidou navigation payload launched by Chinese rocket

China launched another satellite for the Beidou space-based navigation network, continuing the system’s expansion after it began trial service in December. A Long March 3C rocket lifted off from the Xichang space base in southwest China’s Sichuan province. The 18-story launcher, boosted by twin strap-on engines, flew east from Xichang and deployed the Beidou payload in an oval-shaped geosynchronous transfer orbit stretching more than 22,300 miles above Earth at its furthest point. Built by the China Academy of Space Technology, the spacecraft will maneuver itself to a circular orbit over the equator, where it will join the Beidou fleet.

GLONASS Northwest to Help maintaining safe navigation

780-th Navigational Hardware Repair Plant started to equip light-optical devices mounted on sea buoys, coastal beacons and lighthouses with special GLONASS-based modules. Mainly, this innovation is called to improve reliability of navigational aids and maintain safety of seafaring. The project will be implemented with technical support of GLONASS Northwest. JSC 780-th Navigational Hardware Repair Plant is subordinated to Russian Defense Ministry and engaged in development, production, and service maintenance of navigational facilities providing safe seafaring.

Norway to expand Arctic seabed surveying

Norway intends to expand surveys of a previously disputed area in the Arctic offshore region bordering Russian waters ahead of potential oil exploration, Norway’s prime minister. The country’s seismic survey program began last summer in the boundary waters of the Barents Sea and will now move north, to an area east of the Svalbard archipelego, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said. The more northerly part of the survey program will start this summer and continue into 2013.

Scientists using surveying equipment to monitor whales

The team of scientists are working out of Western Australia on the project, which will focus on the humpback and blue whales that use the coast and sea around South Western Australia for migrating, resting and, in some cases, calving. Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, Deputy Director at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) at Curtin University in Perth, said that they will use a range of platforms to track the whales. These will include land-based monitoring and theodolite tracking, boat-based behavioural, and photo-identification surveys, and passive acoustic recording of cetacean song and vocalisations. Once the data is collected, it will be subjected to advanced statistical modelling methods that will help the scientists develop a long-term database of the creatures’ presence.

Congress OKs FAA bill allowing drones in US, GPS air traffic control

After five years of legislative struggling, 23 stopgap measures and a two-week shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress finally has passed a bill aimed at prodding the nation’s aviation system into a new high-tech era in which satellites are central to air traffic control and piloted planes share the skies with unmanned drones. The bill, which passed the Senate speeds the nation’s switch from radar to an air traffic control system based on GPS technology. It also requires the FAA to open U.S. skies to drone flights within four years. Final approval of the measure was marked by an unusual degree of bipartisan support despite labor opposition to a deal cut between the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House on rules governing union organizing elections at airlines and railroads. The House had passed the bill last week, and it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. The bill authorizes $63.4 billion for the FAA over four years, including about $11 billion toward the air traffic system and its modernization. It accelerates the modernization program by setting a deadline of June 2015 for the FAA to develop new arrival procedures at the nation’s 35 busiest airports so planes can land using the more-precise GPS navigation.

Agreements between SA, Russian space agencies imminent

The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, will, all being well, sign two agreements this month. One concerns the Radioastron space telescope mission and the other the Glonass navigation satellite constellation – the Russian equivalent to America’s global positioning system. In addition, and separately, Roscosmos has indicated to South Africa that its is open to carrying out joint Russian-South African scientific experiments on the International Space Station. (These would be executed by Russian crew members on the space station, and would not involve sending South Africans into space.)

Chris Rizos receives Elected Fellow Membership of the Institute of Navigation

During the recent Institute of Navigation (ION) International Technical Meeting (ITM) 2012 in Newport Beach, California, ION announced that Professor Chris Rizos is a recipient of the 2012 Fellow Membership. Election to Fellow membership recognizes the distinguished contributions of the Institute of Navigation members to the advancement of the technology, management, practice and teaching the arts and science of navigation; and/or lifetime contributions to the Institute. Professor Chris Rizos has been elected for sustained contributions to the practice and management of satellite navigation research; and for leadership representing the satellite navigation community in Australia.

Ship GPS holds key to Italians’ trial in India

The GPS on board Italian tanker Enrica Lexie holds the key to determine whether six Italian naval personnel could be prosecuted in Indian courts or it should be left to Rome to act against them. The Enrica Lexie’s security, which killed the two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on Wednesday with the mistaken belief that they were pirates, can be prosecuted under the Indian Penal Code only if the incident occurred in Indian territorial waters. Indian laws are enforceable upto 12 nautical miles from the shoreline. But with indications that the shooting may have taken place in international waters, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea comes into play. “Under it, the accused can only be tried in Italian courts, and that too only if the Italian government wants it,” said an official. Indian authorities are in a fix over this jurisdiction problem since preliminary probe shows Enrica Lexie was 18-20 nautical miles from Indian shores during the incident. Hence in effect, Enrica Lexie was in international waters, even though in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone that stretches up to 200 nautical miles from the coast. The shooting has led to frayed tempers in Kerala. All parties have condemned the incident, and CM Oomen Chandy has said that culprits would be brought before the law with the police registering cases. An official said, “Access to the tanker’s GPS and records is required to conclusively pinpoint the exact route it was taking on the high seas.” The AIS (automatic identification system), the tracking system used on ships to locate each other as well as exchange data with shore-based maritime authorities, can also be used to determine Enrica Lexie’s route. India is angry that Enrica Lexie did not follow the laid-down international protocol, or “best management practices” and “standard operating procedures”, by directly opening fire at the fishermen. Instead, the tanker should have first activated the emergency communication plan and issued distress calls on the open VHF Channel 16 or Channel 08, which would have been picked up by Indian warships and others. The next stage of “passive measures” would have involved evasive manoeuvring, use of water cannons and warning shots. But Enrica Lexie apparently resorted to the “active measure of shoot-to-kill” at the first instance.

Global-positioning system uses cameras instead of satellites

Australian researchers have developed a global-positioning system (GPS) based not on satellites, but camera systems and database algorithms. Dr Michael Milford from Queensland University of Technology’s Science and Engineering Faculty claims his research would make navigating a far cheaper and simpler task. ‘At the moment you need three satellites in order to get a decent GPS signal and even then it can take a minute or more to get a lock on your location,’ he said. ’There are some places geographically, where you just can’t get satellite signals and even in big cities we have issues with signals being scrambled because of tall buildings or losing them altogether in tunnels.’ The approach to visual navigation algorithms, which has been dubbed SeqSLAM (Sequence Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping), uses local best match and sequence recognition components to lock in locations. SeqSLAM uses the assumption that you are already in a specific location and tests that assumption over and over again. Milford said the ‘revolution’ of visual-based navigation came about when Google took photos of almost every street in the world for their Street View project. However, the challenge was making those streets recognizable in a variety of different conditions and to differentiate between streets that were visually similar. The research, which utilises low-resolution cameras, was inspired by the navigational patterns of small mammals such as rats. ‘My core background is based on how small mammals manage incredible feats of navigation despite their eyesight being quite poor,’ he said. The research has been funded for three years by an Australian Research Council $375,000 (£254,000).

ION Awards

  • The Institute of Navigation presented its Dr. Samuel M. Burka Award to Dr. Penina Axelrad, Ben K. Bradley, James Donna, Megan Mitchell, and Dr. Shan Mohiuddin for their paper “Collective Detection and Direct Positioning Using Multiple GNSS Satellites” published in the Winter issue of NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 58, No. 4, pp. 305-321.
  • The Institute of Navigation presented its Distinguished Service Award to Dr. David Winfield for his years of voluntary devotion in the mentoring and education of future generations of navigators in the D.C. area public school system; and as the co-founder and principal participant of the Washington, D.C. Section’s Student Activities Committee.
  • The Institute of Navigation presented Dr Samer Khanafseh with the Early Achievement Award. Dr. Samer Khanafseh was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the integrity of carrier phase navigation systems.
  • The Institute of Navigation presented its Norman P Hays Award to Paul M. Novak . Paul M. Novak was recognized for outstanding encouragement, inspiration, and support contributing to the advancement of navigation systems in military platforms and on the GPS space, control, and user segment programs.
  • The Institute of Navigation presented its Superior Achievement Award to Captain Jason Gossett for his ingenuity and airmanship leading to revamped airdrop procedures in the area of responsibility and expert/unshakable re-planning and navigation. • The Institute of Navigation presented its Thomas L. Thurlow Award to Dr John Betz for his contributions to GNSS signal design, and to compatibility and interoperability of GPS III and other global navigation satellite systems.
  • The Institute of Navigation presented its Tyco Brahe Award to Dr Martin J Unwin for pioneering the development of low-cost GNSS receiver technology for spaceborne navigation and remote sensing.
  • The Institute of Navigation presented its Captain P.V.H. Weems Award to Clyde E. Edgar, Jr for his sustained contributions to GPS satellite payload and signal design and engineering, professional collaboration, and promotion of scholarship in navigation science and engineering.
  • The Institute of Navigation) announced the recipients of the 2012 fellow memberships. Election to Fellow membership recognizes the distinguished contributions of The Institute of Navigation members to the advancement of the technology, management, practice and teaching the arts and science of navigation; and/or lifetime contributions to the Institute. o Patricia Doherty has been elected for her contributions to radio wave propagation through the ionosphere and her exemplary service to The Institute of Navigation o Dr. John Raquet has been elected for leading the development of numerous GPS and non-GPS navigation technologies; and for significant impact on the next generation of navigation professionals through education. o Professor Chris Rizos has been elected for his sustained contributions to the practice and management of satellite navigation research; and for leadership representing the satellite navigation community in Australia.

GPS court ruling leaves US phone tracking unclear

A US Supreme Court decision requiring a warrant to place a GPS device on the car of a criminal suspect leaves unresolved the bigger issue of police tracking using mobile phones, legal experts say. The top US court ruled 9-0 in January that police violated the rights of a suspected drug dealer when they placed a GPS, tracking device on his vehicle without a warrant and followed his movements. But privacy activists and legal analysts are watching for guidance on the far more ubiquitous practice of law enforcement tracking using cellphones. This can be done using a phone’s GPS or by “triangulation” using cell towers, and can also be done with certain tablet or laptop computers. Privacy advocates say real-life police, like the ones on TV, often use this method to track suspects despite the murky legal situation. This could be limited if courts provide clearer rulings or if Congress passes legislation on “location privacy.” docId=CNG.454c5716f24cdfc6ce7fae678b89fc80.91

Researcher turns inaccuracy of GPS into a tool to predict quake

GPS users often complain about some inaccuracy in the device. A researcher at the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT), Surat, India, turned that inaccuracy into a tool to predict earthquakes. The researcher, Sheetal Karia, supported her findings by studying the data from three earthquakes in different parts of the world in the last three years. As part of her study, Karia developed a model to predict an earthquake. Papers written by her on the quake prediction model have been published by internationally acclaimed journals. The model has not predicted any quake but post quake studies in three earthquakes supported the findings. The study established that underground tectonic plate activities that lead to a quake create an electromagnetic field. The field also affects the atmosphere overground which is scaled through variation in GPS data. It studies TEC variations obtained using GPS measurements and electron density observations by the detection of electro-magnetic emissions transmitted from earthquake regions.

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