Friday, October 21, 2011

Europe Launches First Satellites of New GPS System

Skeptical about reliance on GPS as provided by the United States's constellation of satellites, the European Union has launched the first two satellites of its Galileo system.   Initial operational capability is expected in 2015.  The system promises to delivery better accuracy than its American counterpart.

From a BBC article about this development comes this interesting thought:

"Few people perhaps recognise the full extent of GPS usage today. Sat-nav is not just about drivers trying to find their way on unfamiliar roads - banks employ GPS time to stamp global financial transactions; and telecommunications and computer networks are synchronised on the "ticks" of the satellites' atomic clocks.

Indeed, Britain's Royal Academy of Engineering issued a report earlier in the year that said the UK economy had become dangerously over-reliant on satellite-navigation signals, and that too many applications had little or no back-up were these signals to go down."

To read the full article, go here.

Comment: The value of GPS might be best understood by considering which countries or regions have sought to join the GPS "space race".  In addition to the U.S. and Europe, Russia has recently brought back to life its Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), Japan has begun deploying its Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), China has announced that it will take its COMPASS network from regional to global, and India has announced it will deploy the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS)Clearly, accurate understanding of geolocation, matters.

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