NASA Breaks Guinness World Record for Highest GPS Altitude Fix

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission broke the Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal, the agency announced this week. The MMS satellites, operating in a highly elliptical orbit, set the record at 43,500 miles above the Earth.

The four MMS satellites incorporate GPS measurements into their tracking systems for position and orbit calculations to guide tight formations, NASA said.

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission broke the Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal, the agency announced this week. The MMS satellites, operating in a highly elliptical orbit, set the record at 43,500 miles above the Earth.

The four MMS satellites incorporate GPS measurements into their tracking systems for position and orbit calculations to guide tight formations, NASA said.

NASA achieved another record when the four MMS satellites flew four-and-a-half miles apart in September. This formation is the closest separation of any multi-spacecraft formation, the agency said. It breaks the record, set in 2015, when MMS satellites flew a little more than six miles apart in formation. In addition, when the satellites are closest to Earth, they move at 22,000 miles-per-hour, making them the fastest known use of a GPS receiver, the agency said.

The four satellites fly in a pyramid formation to map magnetic reconnection, which occurs when the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields interact, NASA said. "Precise GPS tracking allows the satellites to maintain a tight formation and obtain high resolution three-dimensional observations," the agency said.

NASA said MMS, when it enters its mission’s second phase next spring, will be sent to a larger orbit to explore a different part of the Earth’s magnetosphere. At that time, the agency said that the satellites will probably break their current high-altitude GPS record.

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