New technique to counter the effects of solar activity on GNSS, will be valuable across range of industries

Oct 04, 2012
New technique to counter the effects of solar activity on GNSS

(Phys.org)—It's long been known that increased activity related to the 11-year solar cycle may disrupt Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). As we approach the 2013 solar maximum, researchers at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute (NGI) have developed a new technique which retains a high degree of accuracy under adverse ionospheric conditions.

One of the major threats to our ever-increasing dependence on GNSS technology is the sun, with solar-related phenomena affecting in particular the Earth's —the . Effects such as ionospheric scintillation—fluctuations in the GNSS satellites signal phase and amplitude caused by disturbances in the ionosphere—may corrupt signal tracking. GNSS technology currently has little or no protection from this disruptive phenomenon.

Researchers at the NGI have developed a new technique that improves GNSS positioning accuracy under the adverse tracking circumstances that arise during ionospheric . The technique improves position estimates without using external models to predict the distorting scintillation effects.

The new technique is particularly useful for applications demanding a high degree of accuracy, such as those relying on Precise Point Positioning (PPP) technology—an advanced GNSS positioning method that is currently under development.  The technique proposed at the NGI uses information that can be extracted from any GNSS receiver in real time as it 'senses' the effects of the ionosphere. This information can then be applied to counter ionospheric disturbances that currently limit the accuracy attainable by the PPP technology.

The new method will be valuable across a range of industries—from dynamic positioning in and production to precision agriculture, where the automated localised application of pesticides and fertilisers requires high levels of accuracy to maximise yield and profit while reducing . Fields such as surveying, geodesy, mapping and construction would also benefit.

The technique is currently in the test phase, with promising initial results.

Dr Marcio Aquino, Principal Research Fellow at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, is leading a number of projects addressing the effects of ionospheric disturbances on GNSS.

"Global Systems (GNSS) are now fully embedded in modern society, from in-car navigation to the timing of global financial transactions," he said. "We rely on them—which is why ensuring the accuracy of these systems used across the planet is a key research strand at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute."

"Regions at both high and equatorial latitudes are particularly affected by these phenomena, including northern Europe, Latin America, India and parts of China. GNSS multiple frequency range measurements and special algorithms can be used to model the overall effect of the ionosphere. But the state of the ionosphere can be erratic, depending on prevailing solar activity and its influence on the geomagnetic field. This creates additional disturbances that aren't so easy to model—which is why the new being developed at Nottingham is so important to industry."

Explore further: Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trimble Introduces Future-Ready GNSS Positioning Technology

Oct 06, 2005

Trimble announced Wednesday that it has developed a software-based technology supporting Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to maximize flexibility and minimize cost in end-user positioning products that will use a ...

Better positioning with concept

Mar 23, 2011

Final burst for the European satellite navigation system Galileo – the first satellites are to be in position in the year 2012 and start their work. Fraunhofer Galileo Labs are showcasing the first applications ...

View of the Upper Atmosphere

Dec 05, 2005

Scientists from NASA and the National Science Foundation discovered a way to combine ground and space observations to create an unprecedented view of upper atmosphere disturbances during space storms.

Interfering with the Global Positioning System

Jun 09, 2008

You can't always trust your GPS gadget. As scientists have long known, perplexing electrical activity in the upper atmospheric zone called the ionosphere can tamper with signals from GPS satellites.

Czechs sign deal to host EU's satellite navigation

Jan 27, 2012

(AP) -- The Czech government has signed a deal for Prague to host the headquarters of an ambitious satellite navigation system that is meant to become the main rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System.

Recommended for you

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

Oct 30, 2014

(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

Oct 30, 2014

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

Oct 30, 2014

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.