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GNSS Hotspots

World Records, Hacking the Grid, Drone Countermeasures and Cash in India

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Highest altitude fix for a GPS signal, GNSS timing signals and hacking the Grid, Eagles act as drone countermeasures and rumors of a GNSS-nano-chip contributes to cash crisis in India

1. GUINNESS WORLD RECORD!
Outer Space
NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) earned a Guinness World Record for the highest altitude fix of a GPS signal in November when the four satellites were on their elliptical orbit 43,500 miles from Earth. When the MMS satellites are closest to us down below, they travel up to 22,000 miles per hour, making them the fastest known operational use of a GPS receiver. The four satellites fly in a tight flying formation using precise tracking systems that depend on GNSS.

2. HACKING THE GRID?
Redlands, California and Idaho Falls, USA

√ Those delicate GNSS timing signals crucial to the synchrophasor systems on the electrical power grid keep cybersecurity folks awake at night. But, if hackers intrude on the grid, turning the lights out could be the least of our problems. Researchers from California’s Esri and the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory are using GIS to identify the likely ripple effects — from the spread of malware to water system failure to issues for first responders. In a Christian Science Monitor article about the project, the deputy director of the National Geospatial Intelligence agency said of the intersection of digital and physical worlds: “Too many people think that cyber is its own domain and quite frankly, everything resolves to physical.”

3. GOTCHA!
The Hague, Netherlands

√ To the list of drone countermeasures, add “eagles” along with “shoot it” and “jam its sensors.” Law enforcement in the Netherlands has partnered with a raptor-training company to teach eagles to identify drones intruding illegally in congested or secure areas, snatch them out of the sky and fly them somewhere away from the public. In theory, it promises significantly less collateral damage than other methods. The birds are rewarded with a piece of meat to make up for the tastelessness of drone and the police say the feathered hunters succeeded 80 percent of the time during the trial period.

4. FOLLOW THE MONEY?
New Delhi, India

India is a cash-based economy and fake currency notes and tax avoidance run rampant. Early in November, the government withdrew two often-counterfeited high-value notes that comprise 80 percent of the cash in circulation and released a new 2000-rupee bill (that’s about US$30). This has not gone well. In addition to making it tough for people to exchange money, the move inspired rumors that the new note contained a secret mini nano-GPS chip that could reveal stashes of no-doubt undeclared cash buried as deep as 393 feet below ground. Rubbish, said the Reserve Bank of India: “Such a technology does not exist at this moment in the world.”

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