GNSS Hotspots | January 2013 - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

GNSS Hotspots | January 2013

One of 12 magnetograms recorded at Greenwich Observatory during the Great Geomagnetic Storm of 1859
1996 soccer game in the Midwest, (Rick Dikeman image)
Nouméa ground station after the flood
A pencil and a coffee cup show the size of NASA’s teeny tiny PhoneSat
Bonus Hotspot: Naro Tartaruga AUV
Pacific lamprey spawning (photo by Jeremy Monroe, Fresh Waters Illustrated)
“Return of the Bucentaurn to the Molo on Ascension Day”, by (Giovanni Antonio Canal) Canaletto
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.
Detail of Compass/ BeiDou2 system diagram
Hotspot 6: Beluga A300 600ST

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

√ The Smithsonian’s long awaited permanent exhibit on GNSS and what led up to it, Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting From Here to There, will open at the National Air and Space Museum on March 29. The takeaway: If you want to know where you are, you need an accurate clock.

Smithsonian Time and Navigation exhibit website

New York USA

√ Oxycodone and other addictive pain relievers are so profitable for the rob-and-run crowd that New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly decided to try Purdue Pharma’s bait bottle technology in pharmacies. They will look just like the real thing—they’ll even rattle when shaken — but if you grab them off the shelf a GPS-aided tracking sensor awakens and . . . busted!

New York Times
[January 15] NYPD Looks to GPS Bottles to Combat Pill Bandits

London, United Kingdom
√ London-based reinsurance broker Aon Benfield warns about the upcoming Solar Max and GNSS. Their January Geomagnetic Storms report says satellite orbit decay, satellite component damage, and high-latitude flight problems require new insurance products. But what about the premiums? “Accurate assessment of risk is still in its infancy,” they say. Let’s just wait while they figure out the cost of GNSS vulnerability.

Aon Benfield
[January 14] Geomagnetic storm report
launched to help prepare for potential peak in solar activity

Dover Strait, United Kingdom
√ In January, Lighthouse Authorities of Britain and Ireland (GLA) turned on e-Loran in the Dover Strait as a backup when GNSS is unavailable. Although the GLA said their main concern is mariner safety in the busiest shipping channel in the world, they added that eLoran might be terribly useful in other cases such as “telecommunciations, smart grid, and high frequency trading systems vulnerable to jamming.” Hint. Hint . . .

Trinity House (General Lighthouse Authority)
[January 8] UK switches on GPS backup in the English Channel

Hand-launched and GPS-enabled FPV Raptor model planes make great game wardens. From 650 feet up, they film the ground below looking for rhino and tiger poachers and transmit location information back to law enforcement. Last year, the World Wildlife Fund gave 2 UAVs to Nepal to patrol Bardia National Park. In December, Google donated $5 million to expand the project to Africa.
World Wildlife Fund
New Technology to Fight Wildlife Crime
The promise of UAVs and applications on the ground (Video)

Zurich, Switzerland
First they tried a tuna, but its narrow agile body made it difficult to robotize. Then students at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich looked at sea turtles and voila! The perfect model for autonomous underwater navigation and transport.

The naro-tartaruga is a 165-pound aluminum swimming robot with a top speed of about 6.6. feet per second. The two front flippers can be maneuvered in three dimensions underwater and the two rear flippers also aid with steering and propulsion. The rigid oval body is big enough to carry cargo and lots of regular-sized electronics and sensors – including pressure, temperature, water leakage and water flow sensors, along with gyros, surface GPS, a compass, and motor encoders.

Note the turtle fins in the picture above, which make all this maneuverability and speed possible. And, last but not least, a camera where the more traditional wrinkled head ought to be. (And, the 17 dual core processor offers a bit more oomph than a real turtle’s brain as well.)

Naro Tartaruga pool test

The Robotics Projects at ETH