There’s No Backup System if GPS Fails

This should be troubling to anyone paying attention to anything else other than their favorite sports team. Reason being: The GPS infrastructure is already out-dated and crumbling as we speak. The system used to to guide troop movements, assist with logistics support and situational awareness, guide missiles and bombs, and synchronize communications networks is due to collapse by 2020 if nothing is done about it. Without it, America would face a choice: Be crippled for years until a backup system takes place, or become dependent on Russia’s GLONASS system, or even China’s BeiDou navigation satellite system. If this seems far fetched, ask those in NASA who have to hitch rides on Russian rockets to reach space nowadays at a very high cost — or those in the satellite launching industry who rely on Russian rockets because America doesn’t supply them anymore.

 

In only took 13 millionths of a second to cause a whole lot of problems.

Last January, as the U.S. Air Force was taking one satellite in the country’s constellation of GPS satellites offline, an incorrect time was accidentally uploaded to several others, making them out of sync by less time than it takes for the sound of a gunshot to leave the chamber.

The minute error disrupted GPS-dependent timing equipment around the world for more than 12 hours. While the problem went unnoticed by many people thanks to short-term backup systems, panicked engineers in Europe called equipment makers to help resolve things before global telecommunications networks began to fail. In parts of the U.S and Canada, police, fire and EMS radio equipment stopped functioning. BBC digital radio was out for two days in many areas, and the anomaly was even detected in electrical power grids. Continue reading

What Would Happen if a Massive Solar Storm Hit the Earth?

https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/1394225260721601574.jpgAn X-class flare captured by NASA on March 6th, 2012. Image Credit: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center / Flickr

 

We all know that major storms can wreak havoc, flooding cities and decimating infrastructure. But there’s an even bigger worry than wind and rain: space weather. If a massive solar storm hit us, our technology would be wiped out. The entire planet could go dark.

“We’re much more reliant on technology these days that is vulnerable to space weather than we were in the past,” said Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He told Gizmodo, “If we were hit by an extreme event today, it’d be very difficult to respond.” Continue reading