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Sierra Nevadas grow and Venice sinks, GLONASS-K testing, traffic updates, jamming, ships at sea and more

Canaletto Grand Canel.jpg"Return of the Bucentaurn to the Molo on Ascension Day", by (Giovanni Antonio Canal) Canaletto
In this issue: GPS and InSar together tell more about Venice and the Sierra Nevada range, GLONASS-K testing delayed, Indian airports to install GAGAN, North Korea jams GNSS, Chinese fishing boats use Compass, SatNavs for elderly drivers

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California/Nevada, USA
√ The age of the Sierra Nevada mountains — home of Yosemite Valley and Lake Tahoe — is puzzling to geodesists. Integrating GPS and inSAR, Universities of Nevada and Glasgow teams studied the area’s uplift and found that it is growing by 1 to 2 millimeters per year. The verdict? The entire range could have arisen in less than 3 million years.

2. TESTING 1 . . . 2. . . . K
Moscow, Russia
√ Russia will test its second GLONASS-K satellite in 2013, instead of this year. The modernized K class is unpressurized, lighter, more accurate and longer-lived than previous models. It transmits four civil and military signals. Grigory Stupak, deputy head of Russian Space Systems, announced the news at the 6th International Satellite Navigation Forum in Moscow.

(Ria Novosti April 17, 2012) Russia to test second Glonass-K satellite in 2013

Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India

√ Speaking at Trichy Airport, the first in India to use satellite-based air traffic management, officials said GAGAN — GPS Augmented Navigation System — will be in all airports by June 2013. The ISRO website shows a second GAGAN satellite will launch in 2012 and the third in 2013-14. The Indian SBAS will cover longitudes from South Africa to Australia.

Kaesong, North Korea; Seoul, South Korea; Beijing, China
√ South Korean president Lee Myung-bak visited Chinese President Hu Jintao and, magically, North Korea stopped jamming GPS signals. From April 28 until May 14, the peninsula’s bad boys disrupted more than 300 commercial flights, 10 ships, and untold automobiles in South Korea with coordinated signals originating in Kaesong.

Guangzhou, China
√ 70,000 Chinese fishers use Beidou’s short message service (SMS) to send 700,000 messages a month, said official Ran Chengqi at the Chinese Satellite Navigation Conference in May. Although 80% of Chinese fishing boats lack modern navigation equipment, coastal provinces have been underwriting installation of receivers partly to facilitate warnings in case of maritime border conflicts.


6. Turn Left at the Pub
Newcastle, England
√ Based on research that shows giving up driving is closely related to a decline in health in older people, Newcastle scientists built a mobile driving simulator to investigate new technologies that could help keep elderly drivers safely behind the wheel as long as possible.

With test subjects in their 80s, the Intelligent Transport team at Newcastle University is investigating in-vehicle tools, including GPS, that can do the trick. They developed a satellite navigation device that uses local landmarks as turning cues: a local pub, a library, or a post office.

In a country that drives on the left, the GPS planned routes that avoided right-hand turns in order to help less confident drivers who were wary of oncoming traffic. The researchers are also experimenting with night visions systems and intelligent speed adaptations. 

7. Che Catastrofe! Venice Still Sinking
Venice, Italy
√ Concerned citizens started precise measurements of the sea surrounding Venice 140 years ago. Before that, art supplied the information.

Canaletto, the popular 18th century landscape painter and printmaker of Venetian scenes (see inset photo, above right), was so meticulous and accurate in his paintings that scientists could later determine the city had sunk more than two feet since 1727. But they thought the city was stabilized after a series of flood control and restoration projects.

However, Venice could be 3.2 inches lower by 2032, according to a 10-year study that used GPS and inSAR, a radar tool for measuring Earth’s deformation.

GPS took absolute readings of the city and its surrounding lagoons. inSAR detected the change elevation relative to other sites.

The new study also indicated that the lagoon area was tilting eastward, a millimeter or two each year, leaving Venice in the west somewhat higher. Prior satellite analyses didn’t pick up on the tilt, possibly because the scientists were using inSAR alone.

The scientific study was published on March 28 in the American Geophysical Union journal G-Cubed (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems). 

Canaletto’s art survives in museums, private collections and college dorm walls all over the world. 

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