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Friday, February 12, 2010

Solar Activity and the Sat Nav

Researchers reckon that the sun is about to emerge from a period of low activity.

The increased sun activity may have an impact on our day to day life. The last time the sun was so active we were much less reliant on satellite technologies.

This could mean that Sat Nav's for instance may stop working. The satellite navigation concept is embodied currently by the US GPS system and Russia's Glonass network.

It depends on what is a simple triangulation calculation. Satellites circle the Earth and constantly beam a radio signal with two pieces of information. Where they are, and at what time.

A sat-nav receiver on Earth collects the time and position signals from the satellites it then works out how far it is from each of those satellites and some simple geometry yields its position.

These signals are weak and scientists are starting to realise sensitive to the activity on the Sun. When the sun is at maximum activity Sat-nav receivers will be blinded for tens of minutes probably a few times a year.

Of course there are many other affects, but that one amused me especially as many people can't go anywhere without Sat Nav.

Map anyone?

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