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Columns and Editorials

June 4, 2019

Working Paper: Processing Options 
for the E6B Signals


With the rethinking of the Galileo Commercial Service (CS), the E6B signal will disseminate Precise Point Positioning (PPP) corrections whereas the E6C component will be encrypted for authentication purposes. Different processing options for the E6 signals are investigated and it is shown that the sensitivity gap between data and pilot processing can be bridged by introducing non-coherent integrations and inter-frequency aiding. Extended integrations mitigate the impact of noise while inter-frequency aiding reduces the dynamics perceived by the E6B tracking loop.

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By Daniele Borio and Melania Susi
June 3, 2019

Avoiding Future GPS – Week Rollover Concerns


In the past few months, there have been articles in the press providing information and misinformation in advance of the GPS week rollover that occurred on April 6. Readers were warned to retire obsolete receivers, update software, check with manufacturers, and even perform testing of critical devices.

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By John W. Betz

Human Engineering: Curtis Hay’s Amazing Places


Curtis Hay is a Technical Fellow at General Motors, where he develops precise GNSS and map technology for safe and reliable autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. He has appeared on many international stages, but while he very much enjoys traveling and meeting people in faraway lands, both for work and for pleasure, he knows where home is.

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By Peter Gutierrez

GNSS Cybersecurity Threats: An International Law Perspective


Hostile cyber operations such as jamming and spoofing of GNSS signals are a growing concern. While they do not cause major damages to the satellite navigation system as such, they can have severe effects on critical national infrastructures and many other systems. Here, we address how international telecommunications law as well as the international law on the prevention of war apply in this context.

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By Ingo Baumann

New Chimera Signal Enhancement Could Spoof-Proof GPS Receivers


Improvements to GPS performance are often incremental, achieved by squeezing better performance out of existing systems with clever tweaks, smarter analysis and sharper receivers. Then again, every once in a while, there’s a huge leap in the capabilities of the system itself—an advance so big that it makes you appreciate all over again the elegant wizardry of satellite navigation.

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By Dee Ann Divis
April 25, 2019

Human Engineering: Miller’s Wild Ride

This present edition of our “Human Engineering” article features a man who is not actually an engineer, although we believe the exception, in this case, is worth making.

“I am a licensed commercial airplane pilot with two undergraduate science degrees and two master’s degrees,” said James Joseph “JJ” Miller. “At NASA, I am a technologist manager overseeing the work of a team of engineers at several NASA field centers across the USA.”

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By Peter Gutierrez

What are the challenges to localization in autonomous cars in the Arctic?


There are a number of challenges to localization of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and autonomous driving (AD) applications in northern latitudes. The primary challenge is the harsh winter weather, which limits the utility of imaging sensors — snow, fog, mist, and darkness adversely affect such sensors and extreme low temperature can affect sensor performance. Ice and snow on the roads magnifies slippage of wheels, reducing the accuracy of wheel-mounted sensors. 

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By Mark Petovello
April 19, 2019

Working Papers: Electric Propulsion Technology Overview

Efforts in the realm of electric propulsion have been both steady and cutting-edge. Past, present, and future projects are discussed along with both realized and potential mission benefits arising from this recent technology.

Electric Propulsion (EP) is a class of space propulsion, which makes use of electrical power to accelerate a propellant by different possible electrical and/or magnetic means. The use of electrical power enhances the propulsive performances of the EP thrusters compared with conventional chemical thrusters. Unlike chemical systems, electric propulsion requires very little mass to accelerate a spacecraft.

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By Günter W. Hein
March 21, 2019

Budget Brawl Could Impact GPS

The GPS community made real progress during 2018. The first GPS III satellite was launched, the contractor for the GPS IIIF satellites was chosen and work on the new ground system appeared to be on a good track. In addition, after years of waiting, two of three requested Galileo signals were approved for official use in the United States and Congress ordered the building of a backup system for GPS timing.

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By Dee Ann Divis
March 14, 2019

European Space Sector Gets Defensive

Officials representing the European Union are now publicly advancing the use of EU space assets, including the Galileo satellite-based navigation system, for military purposes. Galileo has traditionally been touted as a purely civil, purely nonmilitary system, but times and circumstances are changing.

The theme of the EU Space Week session Security and Defense was established by the introductory text that appeared in the event’s program: “The development of the European space sector has, from the outset, been linked to security, either that of the Member States or the EU itself.”

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By Peter Gutierrez