GPS Technology Inspires Interplanetary Navigation

If you follow our blog, you should be familiar with the basics of how GPS technology works. Just in case, here is a brief summary: A constellation of GPS satellites orbiting Earth send and receive signals from GPS devices on the surface, which can pinpoint the exact longitude and latitude location of the device. This information can be used to track a person, property or to calculate a turn-by-turn route to your destination. The technology has come a long way and is now the partial inspiration for a promising and futuristic navigation system for our solar system and beyond. NASARead More

NASA Launches Study Of Ionosphere Turbulence Affecting GPS Technology

As incredible as GPS technology is, it has some significant vulnerabilities. The technology relies on satellite signals transmitting from high orbit. However, electrical storms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere can interfere with the GPS devices and other communication signals. In order to better understand and possibly prevent or deter interference, NASA is funding a rocket mission into the equatorial ionosphere. The mission is called Equatorial Vortex Experiement and involves launching two rockets for a 12-minute pass through the ionosphere from an atoll in the Pacific ocean.   The ionosphere is determined by the Earth’s magnetic field. Under normal circumstances, theRead More

GPS Tracking Takes Search and Rescue to a Whole New Level

In Pennington County, South Dakota, search and rescue teams keep themselves in ready condition by scheduling training exercises while on their yearly outdoor camping activity during the winter. Their preparation includes the checking of all their devices (along with those GPS-tracked) and winterized vehicles for proper function, including snowmobiles, ATVs, Snowcats, and UTVs. To stay sharp for when crises arise on the job, the Pennington County Search and Rescue workers use GPS tracking to hone their proficiency at hunting during winter weather and snowfall conditions. On a recent trip, an emergency test plan required the team to generally locate andRead More

Higher Amounts of GPS Data Collected by NGA That Won’t Kill Your Battery

ArsTechnica reports that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is gathering data from a higher number of GPS reference stations in an effort to make the data collected more accurate. NGA  supplies the GPS data to those in the scientific community and the Defense Department.   NGA plans to acquire additional orbit information by “collecting the data from a constellation of GPS ground stations operated by private companies and other institutions,” according to ArsTechnica. This collection of satellite orbit data, called Precise Ephemeris (PE), will help a GPS device acquire a GPS fix more quickly.   In a request for informationRead More

Tracking GPS Satellites More Accurately


We all know that our GPS devices work with the help of satellites that orbit the earth, but the technology is far more complex than that. Unless we know exactly where the satellites are, we can’t get an accurate location reading from them. A new effort from NASA aims to coordinate the four different geolocation systems in a single station to achieve more accurate, consistent readings than ever before. Tracking GPS satellites is a fascinating, complex process that combines state-of-the-art technology with mathematical techniques that are centuries old. In fact, ancient Greeks were able to use these techniques to figureRead More

LightSquared Increases Tension with Conflict of Interest Claims


The battle between LightSquared and companies that operate GPS tracking systems is far from over. New allegations, formally sent to NASA’s Inspector General, make things even more complex by claiming that a member of a key advisory panel has violated ethics rules with his ties to the GPS industry. The mobile network firm LightSquared wants to make use of a wavelength spectrum that is adjacent to the ones GPS tracking systems use. The controversy centers around the fact that the close proximity of the wavelengths could create interference for commercial, personal, and national security GPS functions. The longer the debateRead More

Space Foundation Survey: People Can’t Live Without GPS

GPS tracking and satellite technology are the most important, “can’t do without” space technologies, according to a recent survey conducted by the Space Foundation. The study is featured on the Space Certification website here. The survey concluded just in time for World Space Week, which began October 4th, 2011, and asked participants to answer the following questions: 1)    Which space-based invention has had the biggest impact on society? 2)    What space invention could they not live without? The answers revealed that more than half of the participants credited satellite technology (such as GPS tracking and navigation) with having the mostRead More

LightSquared Begins GPS Testing

LightSquared has been at the center of satellite controversy for some months after the FCC granted them permission to develop a satellite mobile network neighboring the widely used GPS locator satellite constellation. Many people are concerned because the signals produced by the new mobile network are estimated to be over a billion times more powerful than the signals received from the GPS satellites. The FCC heard these concerns and has required that LightSquared perform tests to assure the GPS locator signals would not be significantly blocked. LightSquared is working with participants from the GPS industry to ensure the results ofRead More

NASA Working To Deter GPS Vulnerability

The more GPS locator systems are used, the more vulnerable modern society becomes to threats to the satellite technology. The GPS signals are relatively weak, sending information from over 12,000 miles away. The signal can be disrupted by tall buildings, stronger signals in the area, and more recently, GPS jammers. NASA is working on increasing the stability of the GPS signal, which they have described as the “equivalent to a Los Angeles user receiving the light from a 60 watt light bulb in New York.” GPS jammers are fairly easy to get ahold of and are used by some truckRead More