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  • This month's GALILEO shutdown: a warning to our world.

    Posted on OscarCP Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Outside the box Rumors and what-ifs This month's GALILEO shutdown: a warning to our world.

    This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  wavy 3 weeks, 6 days ago.

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    • #1896800 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      What if GPS and its Chinese, European and Russian counterparts were to go down because of some cosmic catastrophe, most likely a huge solar flare frying the satellites. Such as the one in 1859 that, at that time, caused some damage to telegraph systems, because of the very high voltages, induced by the very fast changes it produced in the Earth magnetic field, in the very long loops formed by the long-distance telegraph lines. But that was all the important electric equipment that was vulnerable to such flares then. Things have changed.

      We could have had a taste of this earlier this month, when not a huge flare, but an obscure, as yet undisclosed problem (that is looking worse as time goes by without a forthcoming explanation from those in charge) that caused the European equivalent of GPS, known as GALILEO, to go out, completely, for about one whole week. Fortunately, most equipment that uses it, from cell phones to the controls of nation-wide power distribution grids, switched automatically to GPS and things kept going as usual and people hardly noticed:

      https://www.wired.com/story/galileo-satellite-outage-gps/

      But what if we had the kind of problem that can bring down GPS and the other satellite systems, from positioning and timing (e.g., GPS, GALILEO, GLONASS and Beidu) to weather monitoring and a myriad other applications of artificial satellites in this day and age?

      What will happen is this: until the satellites are replaced, because they cannot be repaired in orbit, there will be no navigation assistance to airplanes, ships, delivery trucks, ambulances, etc. No Internet, that depends both on computer servers and on GPS satellites and their like to keep working in good and synchronous order, so no Web either, no Internet of Things, no smart self-driving vehicles, no effective control of power grids, and so on and so forth. Of course, the power grids would not work anyways, because there would be massive black outs caused by the transformer substations burning down, if nothing else. So most industrial equipment, including those needed to make replacement satellites, will be left off line, and the world will have to get back to a semblance of civilized order in the middle of a huge humanitarian crisis. Without GPS and its counterparts to help figure things out.

      While a few of the GPS-like satellites might survive, (for example , and with great good luck, those on the night side, during the few days, twice a year, when they are in deepest, longest eclipse) it is unlikely that there will be enough of these for the various software applications that use their signals to find position and time to be able to do much, if anything, with them, because they are generally designed to work with as many satellites as possible, and that means at least more than 24 of them available at any time.

      Such is the warning the GALILEO shutdown has given the world. But the world has hardly noticed. Have you?

       

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #1897000 Reply

      b
      AskWoody Plus

      No Internet, that depends both on computer servers and on GPS satellites and their like to keep working in good and synchronous order, so no Web either, no Internet of Things,

      Are you sure about the internet, web, IoT?

      I’m not, as there are 260 earth-based atomic clocks and the 24 GPS satellites are merely alternatives.

      Knuckle dragger Cannon fodder Chump Daft glutton Idiot Crazy/Ignorant Toxic drinker Blockhead Unwashed mass Seeker/Sucker "Ancient/Obsolete" (Group ASAP) Win10 v.1903

    • #1897001 Reply

      mn–
      AskWoody Lounger

      … Do you mean positioning service outage, general satellite outage, or a full-on EM flare down to surface installations?

      For the latter, well yeah, full grid outage is bad.

      Military-type scenarios already included that we can’t rely on satellite signals getting through unjammed so power grids, emergency services and such aren’t allowed to just rely on those, over here.

      Public NTP servers are a good thing AND should always have several peers.

      Paper maps are also a good thing, as are offline copies of electronic maps.

    • #1897046 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      The scenario I have posited is the very worst, but it will not take that much to create a really tremendous mess. True that there are alternatives, if you have time to find them and use them. However, much of everyday life,  these days, is highly dependent on GPS, and to a lesser extent on the other systems, mentioned in my note, from Europe, Russia and China, and those rely implicitly on GPS as a stopgap alternative.

      In the USA there has been much talk about having a ground based alternative, such as the advanced eLORAN system of ground based radio beacons. The original LORAN was dismantled and its stations were destroyed as a money-saving measure, when GPS was found to be just as useful. The eLORAN precise navigation and timing system is already under deployment in Korea, for example, but in the USA, for several years  now, there has been much talk in Congress and some preliminary studies, but with no firm decision yet to fund it in order to move forward towards its actual full-scale deployment.

      The real root of the problem is that GPS, compared to any other navigation and surveying tool, is cheap and easily integrated with any number of digital technologies. That gives politicians an excuse to look both good at keeping taxpayers safe from being taxed to fund more big government expenses and for looking in the know when it comes to matters technologically cool. Along many years of following developments, I have seen the alternatives to be scrapped, archived, or simply lost as well as the teaching of the pre-GPS techniques discontinued, all this with the consequent ever-increasing dependence on this satellite system, and now, also progressively so, on its counterparts from other countries.

      The military also will certainly  have serious problems if the satellite navigation systems went dark, but as long as there is no war going on, the impact will be more dire, immediate and inescapable on the civilian side. During the previous government, the Secretary of Defense declared that he “hated GPS” and proposed funding a number of initiatives based on some exotic technologies, such as cold-atom accelerometers for building very stable inertial navigation units that might be a solution long-term, but mostly have resulted, so far, in some companies started as spinoffs of their research by personnel of University Engineering and Physics Departments, some of whom I happen to know, getting funded to do proof-of-concept studies.

      Full disclosure: I have spent a good deal of my career in the last quarter of a century — and still am at it — studying and developing techniques for the use of GPS in applications that require finding position with great precision (better than 2 inches in three dimensions), particularly of moving vehicles such as: airplanes, both manned and unmanned, ships, buoys (including for detecting tsunami waves), people surveying sites on foot and artificial satellites with precise altimeters to map the surface of sea and ice caps, all carrying GPS receivers on them. Besides making some technical contributions that have found general application, I have also, of course, followed with interest the developments in this field and considered the actual and potential consequences of such developments, discussed them often and at length with colleagues from different countries, and given them considerable thought. None of which means that I am right in what I wrote to start this thread, but at least might explain what has motivated me to do so.

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #1911430 Reply

      wavy
      AskWoody Plus

      Of course this is all assuming the electric grid is still functional. And electronics in general have not been fried.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

      good bye facebook

      🍻

      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      • #1911435 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Wavy: In that case, there will be a huge business opportunity opening to anyone who knows how to shape stones to make useful things with them.

         

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #1911457 Reply

      wavy
      AskWoody Plus

      or reuse what is there already ….the detritus of the old civilization…

      🍻

      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #1911458 Reply

      wavy
      AskWoody Plus

      I will be practicing my Clovis though..

      🍻

      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      2 users thanked author for this post.

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