GNSS Hotspots | March 2012 - Inside GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems Engineering, Policy, and Design

GNSS Hotspots | March 2012

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

San Francisco, California and Washington D.C., USA

San Francisco, California and Washington D.C., USA
√ FBI general counsel Andrew Weissman said the January Supreme Court decision against warrantless GPS tracking led to a “sea change” in the bureau — thousands of devices lie dead in the water. Agents were told to stop using GPS trackers immediately and wait for legal clarification to retrieve them from vehicles. Weissman spoke on February 24th at a San Francisco conference.

(March 7, Associated Press) FBI chief describes GPS problem from court ruling

(February 25, Wall Street Journal) FBI Turns Off Thousands of GPS Devices After Court Ruling

Austin, Texas, USA

√ The “Bluebrain” brothers compose dreamy location-aware music via a free iPhone app. Sounds alter as listeners walk through 264 zones of the National Mall in their first album. Now it’s on to Austin’s South by Southwest festival. Tech problems? When too many tracks merge at once, it overwhelms the GPS and the smartphone freezes, they say.

(March 11, SXSW website)  PostSecret + Bluebrain: A Multimedia Presentation

(February 29, 2012 Prefix)  Bluebrain Soundtracks Your Life

(January 17, 2012 Washington Post video) Bluebrain’s Botanic Garden boombox walk

(May 28, 2011 Washington Post) Bluebrain make magic with the world’s first location aware album


Kerguelen Islands, Indian Ocean and Jan Maven Island, Norway
√ Want to be left alone? Visit the Galileo ground station on the southern Indian Ocean’s Kerguelen Islands. A boat calls only four times a year and you’d have feral cats for company. Or try the station on the black sands of Norway’s Jan Mayen Island, whose claim to fame is the worst weather in the world.

(February 27, European Space Agency newsite) Galileo on the ground reaches some of the Earth’s loneliest places

Moscow, Russia

√ Russia plans two Glonass launches this year, Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said in a February 22 TV interview. On March 13, the agency released a highly ambitious space exploration plan in the face of angry calls for reform. Popovkin experienced an emergency hospitalization earlier in March officially due to “continued physical and emotional strain,” said Itar-Tass.

(March 13 Ria Novosti) Russia Drafts New space exploration strategy

(March 11, Itar-TASS) Russia Space Agency chief Popovkin hospitalised

(February 27, Voice of Russia) 100 New Russian satellites

February 22, Ria Novosti) Russia to Launch 2 Glonass Satellites in 2012

Tokyo, Japan

√ Japan is putting QZSS on the fast track, planning a four-satellite constellation by the late 2010s. With improved GNSS accuracy in Asia-Pacific, the government will aggressively promote QZSS technology exports especially for auto nav, collision avoidance, smartphones and precision agriculture. This was announced at a March 13 cabinet meeting on the space sector.

(March 16, by ADIT, French public research agency for business technology) Le gouvernement et les industriels unis pour promouvoir l’exportation d’infrastructures spatiales (French language)

(March 13, Daily Yomiuri, Japan’s largest English-language newspaper) Japan “GPS” to boost exports

(January 24, 2012 Technical Working group report to the U.S.-Japan GPS plenary) download the PDF here

JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency



1. United States Federal Bureau of Investigation logo, from FBI website photo gallery.

2. Bluebrain show at South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas in March. Video capture by the composers, Hays and Ryan Holladay.

3. Protective “radome” housing for the Galileo ground station on desolate Jan Mayen Island in the Norwegian Arctic. The site is home to a Galileo Sensor Station plus satellite link to pass data back to the Galileo ground system. Photo by ESA/Fermin Alvarez Lopez 

4. Vladimir Aleksandrovich Popovkin is the General Director of the Russian Federal Space Agency and former First Deputy Defense Minister of Russia. He is a retired General of the Army and former commander of the Russian Space Forces. Roscosmos photo

5. Illustration of a QZSS satellite watching Japan from above. Japan space agency (JAXA) photo