GNSS Data Points and Factoids to Amuse and Inform
The U.S. Naval Observatory Alternate Master Clock at 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Schriever AFB in Colorado. This photo was taken in January, 2006 during the addition of a leap second. The USNO master clocks control GPS timing. They are accurate to within one second every 20 million years (Satellites are so picky! Humans, on the other hand, just want to know if we're too late for lunch) USAF photo by A1C Jason Ridder. (Click image to enlarge.)
The leap second, icy Alaska harbors and icy European streets, a wealth of Russian satellites and a Chinese vacation paradise
1. ICE BREAKER
Nome, Alaska USA
√ Two 2 1/2 pound GPS-guided UAVs that tolerate extreme cold helped bring fuel to snowbound Nome, Alaska over two weeks in January. On daily photographic missions, the Aeryon Scouts helped University of Fairbanks researchers map ice thickness in the frozen harbor so a Coast Guard icebreaker could slowly guide a Russian fuel tanker close enough to pump the fuel to shore.
2. A LEAP FOR MANKIND
√ Humans grew up with solar time but GNSS doesn’t care about the leap second. In a winter Geneva meeting, the International Telecommunications Union may eliminate it. They say a continuous time scale will benefit electronic navigation and computerized systems. Once the Earth’s rotation and atomic timekeeping diverge, you’ll notice a 15-minute discrepancy every 1,000 years.
3. GOLDEN ICE
√ A shortage of de-icing salt in Europe raised its price sky-high last year. An Italian researcher used GPS; EGNOS; Europe’s emergency call system, eCall; Windows software and a GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) grant to develop a thrifty, green system for salting Europe’s winter roads. The Golden Ice project is ready to go commercial, they say.
4. FULL HOUSE
√ Despite Roscosmos’ bad luck with launches over the past year, GLONASS anticipates having more than the 24 sturdy satellites it needs for full global coverage in 2012. In a December RIA Novosti story, GNSS official Sergey Revnivykh said he expects 34 working satellites next year and “scientific research” would show if Russia needs to rearrange the constellation. Global users would need new interface control documents, another official said.
(The original story is no longer posted on the site at http://rt.com/politics/press/izvestiya/glonass-space-satellite-roscosmos..., however it has been reposted by the GLONASS/GNSS Forum below)
5. TO THE RESCUE
Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China
√ China is testing Compass at Sichuan’s subtropical Jiuzhaigou Valley reserve, whose waterfalls and turquoise lakes attract swarms of tourists. The new GNSS and its short messaging system will be used by first responders, lost hikers, and park staff who monitor traffic, said Xinhua news agency — all part of the push for domestic commercial apps for BeiDou.
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