Print 28 comment(s) - last by grath.. on Dec 17 at 7:09 PM

GLONASS-M  (Source: Reshetnev Company)
More launches next year

Many consumers around the world use receivers capable of utilizing signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS). These are commonly found in automobile navigation systems, mobile phones, and laptop computers. Prices have come down dramatically over the last decade due to mass production, and companies have readily adopted the technology.

Russia also developed its own global navigation satellite system known as GLONASS. The first generation was launched at the height of the Cold War, but the fall of the Soviet Union meant that launches of the second generation satellites (known as GLONASS-M) didn't begin until 2007. Many satellites in the original constellation failed during that time, and many companies adopted the U.S. GPS system instead.

At least 18 satellites are needed in the GLONASS constellation to maintain coverage of Russian territory, and 21 for global coverage. The system today consists of 19 satellites, but only 16 are currently operational as one is being prepared for decommissioning and two are undergoing maintenance, according to the Russian Space Agency.

A Proton rocket launched three more GLONASS-M satellites into orbit today, and the Russian Space Agency is rushing them into service. Three new third generation satellites (GLONASS-K) will be launched in February in order to restore global coverage. Russia hopes to have 30 satellites in the constellation sometime during 2011, in order to increase reliability and signal strength.

The European Union is also planning its own global navigation satellite system known as Galileo, which would have a higher degree of precision over GPS. The first launch of Galileo satellites is planned for next year. Receivers capable of using signals from all three systems have been designed which would be capable of a much higher level of reliability and accuracy.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By dagamer34 on 12/14/2009 4:26:11 PM , Rating: 1
I don't get it. Why have multiple GPS systems? Is it that Russia doesn't trust the Americans or something?

RE: Huh
By Gwoben on 12/14/2009 4:34:16 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, EU and Russia do not trust the Americans enough to rely on a system which is entirely controlled by US...

RE: Huh
By Jeffk464 on 12/14/2009 10:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
I know really is this surprising.

RE: Huh
By OrSin on 12/14/2009 4:37:21 PM , Rating: 5
Not so much trust, but if shit hits the fan you want to know your stuff is going to work. Also do you want your military using someone else tracking satellites?

Yeah, its a matter of trust.

RE: Huh
By Cr0nJ0b on 12/14/2009 4:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the fact that most of the military uses GPS heavily to fight wars around the world...Russia is smart not to trust us. Over time GPS will be more and more highly integrated into fighting systems, so if you want to have a military that's isn't at the mercy of an potential adversary, you need your own system.

I would also think that there would be some economic value to this as well. I imagine that the US charges something to use our GPS system....but what stops the US from raising the price to cover out debt? I think that would be a fine idea. Charge everyone outside of the US a $25/year connect fee to use our GPS system....just a thought.

RE: Huh
By dagamer34 on 12/14/2009 4:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... GPS is a passive technology, so unless they are just going to make hardware inaccurate around the rest of the world besides the US (again, quite silly), I don't think they can make it suck at will.

Then again, I hear the US does hold back from sending super accurate info, you know, the kind needed to guide rockets to their correct targets.

But as far as i know, civilian GPS units all use the US-built system.

RE: Huh
By chromal on 12/14/2009 6:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the US can strategically control the GPS system's civilian 'dilution of precision' over hostile segments of the world. It wouldn't have taken you much research to see the capability to intentionally degrade 'civilian' GPS precision was deployed over Afghanistan in 2001.

RE: Huh
By zaxxon on 12/14/2009 6:38:45 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know how old YOU are, but Clinton abolished the practice of the degraded GPS signals. Before that consumers could only get 100yards accuracy. Military had access to the better signals. One reason the whole world SUDDENLY had the better signal in '90/'91 was that the military didn't have enough P(y) receivers so the encryption was turned off, so they could desert-storm saddam with accuracy.

and... the is only the US GPS, because GPS IS US!

get your facts straight ;) The hardware is not inaccurate, but the signal is. it's as accurate as the US military wants it to be, no more, no less. They can make it suck a lot at their will immediately. Again, wikipedia is your friend ;)

RE: Huh
By SiliconAddict on 12/15/09, Rating: -1
RE: Huh
By SiliconAddict on 12/15/2009 1:18:31 AM , Rating: 1
I need to go to bed. The number of typos in my post is insane. NOW = HOW, DEAR = DARE, etc.

RE: Huh
By grath on 12/17/2009 7:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well speaking from my location inside a building on ground level surrounded by skyscrapers in downtown Chicago, where one would think the GPS signals would be blocked, my iPhone currently shows an "uncertainty radius" of about 30 meters. Outside I have frequently seen an accuracy of "two parking spaces," my testing method involving a large parking lot, nicely gridded on aerial photos.

On the other hand, sometimes it just freaks out and places me in Lake Michigan or shows a ridiculous amount of uncertainty. I dont know to what extent 'assisted GPS' signals from the cell towers affect things one way or the other, but for the most part I just blame it on my phone. Your reproducable failure on 4 separate devices is very odd.

Im not saying this is the reason for it, but this might be. I would be disappointed in our homeland security apparatus if there was not some kind of means for active GPS jamming or offsetting specifically in the DC area considering the density of sensitive targets there. Consumer GPS would be the logical choice of guidance system for an improvised guided missile, meaning anything from a pipe bomb and netbook strapped to an RC plane kit to a small aircraft full of ANFO or a suitcase nuke. It takes time to intercept such a target or point an electronics warfare pod at it, but a network of static GPS jammers around the area that could be activated at a moments notice would be faster, and hopefully at least cause the missile to hit a taxpayers home instead of the Rose Garden.

RE: Huh
By MrDiSante on 12/14/2009 4:52:15 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not sure you understand how GPS works. Your device doesn't "connect" to the GPS system.

Essentially the GPS statellites broadcast signals at regular intervals. Each signal contains the sattelite's number and time of broadcast. Your GPS device takes 4 of these signals (due to relativity 3 aren't good enough) and figueres out where it must be based on the time that these signals arrived.

There is no log on or connection to the satellites required. Anyone with a receiver in the ~1.5GHz spectrum and a good understanding of the mathematics/physics involved can make a GPS device without paying diddly squat to anyone.

RE: Huh
By Hieyeck on 12/14/2009 5:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
and if it wasn't clear in the prior comment, that means that the US could - in theory - modify the satellites to broadcast random offsets, with which only the US would know the hash and algorithm used, with which to un-muck the random offset on military receivers.

RE: Huh
By Smartless on 12/14/2009 5:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
It's not really a theory. When the current GPS first started, the reason it was only practical for boats was because the military had encoded offsets that make it accurate to 100'. The military had triangulation stations which decoded the offsets for their use. In 2000, they discontinued these and made it publicly available. So essentially yes, we still control it though it only broadcasts a very simple signal.

RE: Huh
By rcc on 12/14/2009 6:00:13 PM , Rating: 2
GPS transfers data at 2 different data rates. One for civilian use, which was initially accurate to 30 Meters, the 2nd for the use of the US Military and Allies that was good to 3 Meters.

Since then, technology on the ground has allowed the civilian side to improve accuracy dramatically. One of which is differential.

All of which is moot in wartime as the Air Force has the ability to encrypt the links, and/or shut off the civilian feed at will.

RE: Huh
By FoundationII on 12/14/2009 5:32:49 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing stops the US from encrypting their GPS signals in wartime though.

RE: Huh
By JediJeb on 12/14/2009 5:47:44 PM , Rating: 2
Just like a DRM, if the US wants to change the signal code they can completely cutoff anyone who doesn't know how to decode it. It isn't just a "ping" from the transmitter but a highly accurate time and position signal that is sent. If your device can't understand the signal, then it has no idea where you are. Or as stated above if they don't change the encoding and only change the content of the signal slightly, your position can be inaccurate by miles or hundreds of miles.

RE: Huh
By alanore on 12/15/2009 11:27:19 AM , Rating: 2
GPS is designed to switch to encrypted communication in the event of a War. Obviously there is a trade off between the enemies use of GPS and civilian dependence on it. With Iraq and Afgan conflicts, the threat from giving the enemy access to GPS was out weighted by civilian dependence.

I think with the US, its common to have a communication encryption capability for all satellites, including 'public' satellites such as weather etc and with joint ventures with other countries.

RE: Huh
By brandonb on 12/14/2009 4:49:57 PM , Rating: 5

JDAM bombs use GPS to bomb their targets. If Russians adopted GPS for bombing purposes, and another conflict arises (Georgia for example) which we are allied with, I'd hate to know where the Russian bombs would land. Probably in Iran.

RE: Huh
By MadMan007 on 12/15/2009 12:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a plan to me! Great excuse for starting a war over Iran. You, my boy, will go far with such ideas.

RE: Huh
By MadMan007 on 12/15/2009 12:27:51 AM , Rating: 2
Re: not just you but everyone else. If there is a serious war between major powers I don't expect any satellite positioning system to last very long at all.

RE: Huh
By aqaq55 on 12/15/09, Rating: -1
RE: Huh
By Murloc on 12/15/2009 1:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
Russians are on their own, so they can't rely on someone else's gps system.
Europe needs his own too, because it will be more precise, aimed at civilian use, and not controlled by foreign military.

By BernardP on 12/14/2009 5:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, all those Russian golfers will be able to use their GLONASS gizmo to know exactly what distance their ball is from the hole.

In Crisis.
By akse on 12/15/2009 1:43:18 AM , Rating: 2
Hehe, It would be fun if Russia would ask permission to use US GPS to guide their missiles at them :)

So yeah, whenever there would be a international big crisis, US would probably shutdown everyone else from their GPS systems.

By nineball9 on 12/14/09, Rating: 0
More junks in space.
By anandtech02148 on 12/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: More junks in space.
By HrilL on 12/14/2009 7:41:05 PM , Rating: 2
in that case we would have to worry about global cooling which is better I guess because it takes less energy to heat things up than cool them down.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki