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GNSS Hotspots

GNSS data points and factoids to amuse and inform

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Iqualuit, Nunavut; Western Europe; Afghanistan; Satish, Dhawan space center; Perth

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1. HURRICANE NEXT
Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA
√ Will Gulf of Mexico tropical storms become new Katrinas or nothing much? Moisture fuels hurricanes; so, NOAA and Louisiana State University researchers installed two new GPS-Meteorology packages on offshore oil platforms to gather the first Gulf ionospheric water vapor readings using dual-frequency techniques. The hope: better prediction of storm intensity and sea surge potential.

Image: Hurricane Katrina rescue from Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (hurricanearchive.org), USCG photo by PO Robert Reed.

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2. GPS FOR EVERYONE
Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
√ The Inuit hunters and assorted travelers in Nunavut, the huge Canadian arctic territory, occupy an unforgiving land. So much so that the government is giving 20 GNSS handhelds to each village to lend to anyone who needs it. Lost in a whiteout? Injured on your snowmobile? Three Iqaluit officials with Blackberries are standing by.

Image: GPS-equipped Inuit hunter, Clyde River, Nunavut. Photo by Kyle O’Keefe, University of Calgary.

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3. RIDING IN MY CAR, CAR
Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy
Western Europeans — 21.1 million of them — use the free navigation on their cell phones for mapping and directions services, according to April’s comScore survey. The digital marketing researchers said 68% used the satnav function while driving. Smart phones with A-GPS were even more likely to be used as “full in-car navigation devices.”

Image: The French Citroën 2CV (deux chevaux), a technical icon designed as a simple, cheap, reliable car for rough roads and off-road driving. (Wikimedia commons)

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4. PRECISION AIRDROP
Afghanistan
√ 30,000 pound loads can be delivered by the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS), the U.S. Air Force’s GPS-guided system that uses a steerable parafoil to precision airdrop food and ammunition to troops in Afghanistan’s rough and remote areas. Controlled by piloted aircraft, it has improved airdrop accuracy by 60%. USAF is working on the UAV version now.

Image: GPS-guided Screamer 2K JPADS in Afghanistan (photo by parachute manufacturer Strong Enterprises)

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5. GAGAN DELAYED, AGAIN
Satish Dhawan Space Center (SHAR), India
√ India’s first GPS/SBAS payload, the GAGAN transmitter on the GSAT-4 geostationary satellite, disappeared into the Bay of Bengal on April 15 when its ill-fated launch vehicle veered off course. A key part of India’s GPS augmentation plan, the failure will further delay civil aviation modernization. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan promised another launch within a year.

Image: Drawing of GSAT4 satellite (ISRO) withcommunication payload multi-beam Ka-band pipe and regenerativetransponder and navigation payload in C, L1 and L5 bands.

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6. DO THE MATH
Perth, Western Australia
√ How is climate change affecting Australia? How can you tell when space junk is getting too close to expensive satellites? The new GNSS Research Laboratory at Curtin University of Technology just received an $8 million grant to use GNSS to develop new algorithms and methods that the federal government hopes will answer these questions.

Image: Objects in geosynchronous orbit, 95% of which are space debris. Plotted in 2005 by NASA.

More Information:

  • Curtin University of Technology media release: Click here
  • Peter Teunissen, leader of Spatial Positioning program, national Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information: Click here

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