GNSS data points and factoids to amuse and inform
Grand Portage Reservation, Minnesota; Detroit; Evryy-Courcouronnes, France; Moscow; Baikonur spaceport; New Delhi; Mertz Glacier
1. CHECK THE “ON” SWITCH
Grand Portage Reservation, Minnesota USA
√ Grand Portage reservation biologists collared eight moose with $5,000 GPS trackers that noted location, air temperature, and movement. A glitch turned the devices off. Helicopters found the herd via radio telemetry, netted and hobbled them so that researchers could flip the switch. Biologists, the GPS manufacturer, and the moose all survived the ordeal.
2. AUTO WEATHER SPOTTERS
Detroit, Michigan USA
√ The U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research used windshield wipers, brakes, and GPS in 11 cars as roving weather spotters in a Detroit pilot project to improve forecasting. Automobile GPS gathers barometric pressure information, used to adjust the engine’s fuel and air mix. Good data for the weatherman today. Tomorrow’s goal: quick feedback on road conditions for drivers.
3. LET”S MAKE A DEAL
Evryy-Courcouronnes, France and Moscow, Russia
√ Commercial launcher Arianespace has ordered 14 Soyuz medium-lift rockets from Russia for $1 billion dollars. Russia’s ROSCOSMOS and France’s CNES approved a joint work plan on new carrier rockets on March 2. Soyuz launchers will be used at the French Space Agency (CNES) spaceport in French Guiana. Five will be needed for the Galileo satellites, starting in November.
4. TRIPLETS IN SPACE!
Baikonur spaceport, Kazakhstan
√ Three GLONASS-M satellites were lifted into orbit from Baikonur Cosmodrome just after midnight on March 2 via Proton-M/DM-2 rocket. Problems with the navigation payload in one of the space vehicles had delayed the launch from last September. Russia intends to make up for lost time with two more triple-SV launches this year.
5. WALL-E FOR REAL
New Delhi, India
√ India’s military establishment (DRDO) challenged engineering students to build an autonomous robot for urban anti-terrorism and low-intensity conflict. Teams will not see the course until one hour before the race. Navigation technologies include kinematics, real-time perception system, multi-sensor data fusion, localization and path planning and robust vehicle control. Teams compete September 27–29 in Madras (Chennai) for a US$43,000 prize.
6. WHEN BERGS COLLIDE
Mertz Glacier, Antarctica
√ The February ice collision that split Antarctica’s great Mertz Glacier interrupted a long-term French-Australian scientific study that used eight year-round autonomous GPS devices (centimeter-accuracy reports every 30 seconds) to study forces causing the ice river to calve. Two deep fissures were just about to join when – whammo! - a nearby berg the size of Rhode Island did the deed first.
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