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Rising Solar Activity will disrupt GPS


Article by: Darren Griffin
Date: 10 Feb 2010

pocketgpsworld.comSource: BBS Science & Technology.

The BBC have a worrying, albeit interesting, news item concerning the an increase in solar activity.

Researchers have warned that as the Sun awakens from a period of inactivity a likely side-affect will be wide spread disruption of GPS signals.

The exact effects are not fully known as the last time the Sun exhibited a rise in activity predated the widespread use of GPS.

Solar flares occur frequently and spread radiation across a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Satellites are designed to cope with this radiation but the forecast rise in activity is believed likely to result in radiation levels well above planned for levels.

Whilst it is not just GPS that may be affected, the weak signals used by the GPS networks are believed more likely to be affected than others.

The affects may manifest themselves in unreliable positioning or a complete failure to acquire a satellite lock. The peak activity is not expected for a couple of years.

Comments
Posted by mostdom on Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:54 am Reply with quote

Very Dooms Day IMO but I did like this statment from the BBC.

BBC Wrote:
Sat-nav receivers will be blinded for tens of minutes, probably a few times a year at the solar maximum.


Best stave off buying that new satnav for the next six years! Wink


Dom

HERE LIES PND May it rest in peace.
Navigon 7310/iPhone Navigon&Copilot

 
Posted by shires999 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:49 pm Reply with quote

I bet Tomtom will use this as an excuse the next time their Live traffic stops working. Very Happy Very Happy


 
Posted by mostdom on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:05 pm Reply with quote

Time to register a new domain name pocketMAPBOOKworld.com with up to the minute reveiws on the latest Brodit AA Atlas mount! and news of drivers claiming to be led astray by their AtoZ! Very Happy


Dom

HERE LIES PND May it rest in peace.
Navigon 7310/iPhone Navigon&Copilot

 
Posted by Darren on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:08 pm Reply with quote

mostdom Wrote:
Time to register a new domain name pocketmapbookworld.com with up to the minute reveiws on the latest Brodit AA Atlas mount! and news of drivers claiming to be led astray by their AtoZ! Very Happy

It's OK, we've got iPhone's. They're often 10m or more out so we'll never know the difference Wink


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by MaFt on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:22 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Researchers have warned that as the Sun awakens from a period of inactivity...


sounds like something from the dark ages. surely everyone knows that the sun is ALWAYS turned on and when it's darker in winter it's not owing to the sun being inactive, it just seems like it cos the earth is at a different angle Wink

Maft


MaFt®

 
Posted by mostdom on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:29 pm Reply with quote

MaFt Wrote:
sounds like something from the dark ages. surely everyone knows that the sun is ALWAYS turned on and when it's darker in winter it's not owing to the sun being inactive, it just seems like it cos the earth is at a different angle Wink

Are you trying to tell us that the earth isn't FLAT!


Dom

HERE LIES PND May it rest in peace.
Navigon 7310/iPhone Navigon&Copilot

 
Posted by Darren on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:42 pm Reply with quote

And on that note, fun 5mins over and back on topic eh? Stop it!


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by MaFt on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:49 pm Reply with quote

surely though fluctuations in space/physics stuff (sorry, i did biology and chemistry so most of this is beyond me) are 'common' or rather 'expected' things and as such those intelligent people in the GPS satellite factory will have factored this in when the system was designed? i.e. flick a switch and the signal strength gets increased by X millibars (or whatever unit they use!)

MaFt


MaFt®

 
Posted by mostdom on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:54 pm Reply with quote

Darren Wrote:
And on that note, fun 5mins over and back on topic eh? Stop it!


My fault! It's just too good a subject not to pick holes in! The scepticism in me thinks this is all a bit OTT, but you know how the media works, take a story and sesationalise it!

On the otherhand if it is to happen it will turn the gps market on it's head and provide a market for other navigation technology, if that is not affected too!


Dom

HERE LIES PND May it rest in peace.
Navigon 7310/iPhone Navigon&Copilot

 
Posted by mostdom on Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:00 pm Reply with quote

MaFt Wrote:
surely though fluctuations in space/physics stuff (sorry, i did biology and chemistry so most of this is beyond me) are 'common' or rather 'expected' things and as such those intelligent people in the GPS satellite factory will have factored this in when the system was designed? i.e. flick a switch and the signal strength gets increased by X millibars (or whatever unit they use!)


I was thinking more along the lines that you often get a fix from at least 6-8 satalites at a time, and therefore a whole swathe of them would have to be affected to reduce the quality of the fix.

It is also known we get high outputs from the sun all the time and the significance here is prolonged activity.


Dom

HERE LIES PND May it rest in peace.
Navigon 7310/iPhone Navigon&Copilot

 
Posted by Darren on Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:19 pm Reply with quote

MaFt Wrote:
surely though fluctuations in space/physics stuff (sorry, i did biology and chemistry so most of this is beyond me) are 'common' or rather 'expected' things and as such those intelligent people in the GPS satellite factory will have factored this in when the system was designed? i.e. flick a switch and the signal strength gets increased by X millibars (or whatever unit they use!)

MaFt

If only. Whilst the solar activity cycles are known, as I understand it we are entering a period of much more intense activity than is otherwise normal. The civilian GPS use is a mere side channel. If there are issues then DoD will work to ensure military users are not affected but civilian users can go whistle. They access the system at DOD's pleasure after all and for free!

Will it cause an issue? Possibly, but it may well be short duration interruptions, across limited areas.

Where an SV is affected by solar activity, that activity is likely to affect every SV in view of the Sun at that time which could be more than 50% given their high elevations. I'd suspect that alone will mean acquiring a signal from multiple SV's will not immunise us from the issue?

I'm not a scientist but these guys are and they're article makes interesting reading and was published in 2006 so it can hardly be claimed to have come out of the blue!


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
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