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EU Space Science

Galileo: Europe's Version of GPS Reaches Key Phase 328

another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "The third and fourth spacecraft in Europe's satellite navigation system have gone into orbit. The pair were launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket from French Guiana. It is an important milestone for the multi-billion-euro project to create a European version of the U.S. Global Positioning System. With four satellites now in orbit — the first and second spacecraft were launched in 2011 — it becomes possible to test Galileo end-to-end. That is because a minimum of four satellites are required in the sky for a smartphone or vehicle to use their signals to calculate a positional fix."
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Galileo: Europe's Version of GPS Reaches Key Phase

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  • Good to hear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @11:20PM (#41646557)

    There has been far, far too many delays and political fuckery with this. I'm glad to hear it is finally going online.

    Satellite navigation is just very important to everything these days (it is the primary nav method for all planes, ships, etc). Having everything rely on GPS, and thus on the budget the US chooses to spend keeping it working, is not a good idea.

    This will make things much more reliable since, after an initial hissing match, the US and EU settled down and the systems play nice together and you'll be able to get devices that use both for better accuracy and reliability.

  • Re:Good to hear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caseih ( 160668 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:18AM (#41646803)

    In agriculture GPS guidance systems already have the capability of talking to Galileo when it is finished, and Glonass right now. After the military, agriculture is probably the most dependent on positioning technology these days. If GPS guidance goes down (IE our hardware has a problem), we simply cannot drive the machines. They are too wide to drive manually (my sprayer is 120 feet wide-- very difficult to drive that manually at less than 5 feet overlap even with markers) and the inputs too expensive to waste on overlaps. If GPS fails, everyone can switch to Glonass with Glonass correction signals, which should keep us going, but Galileo would offer superior accuracy and also precision. Such a switch, however, is not instantaneous. Would take weeks or months to get the firmwares updated (though the radios already are capable). And if that failed, I guess we can do terrestial positioning signals.

    But it's not a matter of if GPS will fail. It's a matter of when. Maybe the US will be able to replace satellites when they die, but if not, it should be very interesting to see what happens.

  • Re:...Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:51AM (#41646947)

    "Galileo is much more precise than GPS. And that's just for starters."

    No, it isn't. It's just that unlike GPS, the precise part is open to the general public.

    Also, I think OP is incorrect. The only reason for a 4th lock using GPS is to get the precision you would normally get with 3, if you were military. If the new system is open and precise, 4 sats should probably not have to be visible.

  • Re:Chicken::egg. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:52AM (#41646951)

    In Asia China's Beidou/Compass should be interesting now, and we'll see how quickly the next phase comes along.

    And Japan's QZSS is easily usable by GPS receivers with the right software.

  • Re:...Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:09AM (#41647043)

    "The 4th sat is for elevation. 3 to fix you in 2D. 4 to fix you in 3D."

    No. That's with GPS, and that's after the fixes for precision that are necessary because the "high precision" part of U.S. GPS is restricted to military.

    With an open system, it should require no more than 3 visible sats to fix your position in 3D.

    Somebody tried to argue this point with me a couple of weeks ago, and it's simply false. You can get a rock-solid 2D position with only 2 observation points. 3 (and even just the first 2, if they are transmitting the appropriate data) can establish elevation.

  • Re:Good to hear (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:31AM (#41647119)

    No they did not.
    Farm machinery has grown in size and complexity over the last couple of decades. GPS is now REQUIRED for many machines.

    But i know you're just arging to be a douchebag even tho you know nothing about the topic at hand.

    So just foad eh?

  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:31AM (#41647123) Journal

    Jesus, tunnel vision much ?

    Look it's nothing to do with GPS vs Galileo. It's to do with the USA, a nuclear power, declaring war left, right and center, & invading other countries basically because it can. No-one likes that; international reputation suffers, trust is lost, and consequences ensue. There's no point in getting pissy about it, you brought it on yourselves.

    I don't think Europeans are innately superior. I think people are just people, wherever you are. I'm married to an American woman, whom I love dearly. I do think the USA is fucked though, the society is (IMHO) past the tipping point and heading down, and I can't see myself staying around much longer, as I've said before on this site. At some point, the money just ain't worth it.


  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:42AM (#41647149) Journal

    Right, I'm talking about a cop executing a handcuffed helpless suspect [] [warning. Graphic.] and the lack of respect for the law that "peace officers" show; about the TSA, just the very fact of its existence; about the demagoguery that passes for news and its knock-on effects on society; about the constant military action taken to divert attention from problems; about the massive debt and crippled economy; about the shameful lack of a decent for-all healthcare system; about the proliferation of lethal weapons that for some reason is enshrined in the country's constitution!, and the horrendous murder statistics that it produces; about the general sense inherent in US society that "everything's ok as long as *I'm* ok, screw you guys" ... I could go on... and on.... and on...

    And your point is that the "national brand" is good. Well whoopy-do. That's all right then. Phew! Glad *that*'s sorted out! .... Fuck me, it's worse than I thought :(


  • Re:...Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZigMonty ( 524212 ) <slashdot.zigmonty@postinbox@com> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:01AM (#41647189)

    You need at least one other sat to fix you in time. The receiver doesn't have an atomic clock and so needs an extra point of data for the extra unknown.

    Simple logic might win an argument, but that doesn't make you correct.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:51AM (#41647849)

    "Hm, what was the last time Congress declared war? Or are we just making shit up now?"

    Note the "invading countries left, right, and centre" part of his argument too, the US has been doing this basically without a single break since World War II in one way or another, whether it's drone strikes in Pakistan, or the CIA pulling off defacto coups across the world. His point is that America spends far too much time and far too much money meddling with other nations, rather than keeping to itself, and that often leads to greater instability. Case in point, by ousting Saddam, the US removed the only credible counterbalance in the middle east to Iran, and since then Iran has been able to carry out proxy attacks everywhere from Iraq, to Lebanon, from Afghanistan, to the Philippines. They couldn't do this shit when Saddam was around, because Saddam would then be given the international blessing he needed to do the exact same thing in Iran proper. By trying to make things better for the oppressed minorities in Iraq, the US ended up making things worse for everyone in Iraq, and people in many other countris too. So when you stop avoiding the point he was making by focussing on a specific intentionally mis-used part of that, tell me, are you disagreeing that America consistently meddles in the dealings of other nations?

    "Well, a lot of your countrymen do"

    Well, ignoring the fact Europe is a country, what Europeans thinks is not that they have any kind of innate superiority - that's simply not in the European mindset- Europeans are simply much more rational than that, they recognise their fallibility in part because they have thousands of years of history of it to learn from. Some European nations did have this mindset- the French and British at the height of their empires for example, but as their empires fell they realise it was simply a load of bullshit. Ironically, the reason you most likely claim it is because it IS something that's in the US mindset, there's even a term for it - "American exceptionalism", it's something America hasn't, like Europe, grown out of yet.

    What many Europeans do believe however, that you're getting confused with, is the fact that currently, Europe is at least governing itself just a little bit more sanely than the US, and that is what Europeans are happy to point out to you. The terms you mention are nothing more than banter, and if you believe any use of them implies some perceived superiority then it simply demonstrates that you, as an American, haven't got out of this absurd mindset that some nations and their people are simply inherently superior to others. Europeans know full well they have their problems, and this is ironically why the current global economic instabilities focus on the Eurozone's issues - because Europe is the only one really openly admitting they have a big problem and trying to deal with it, in contrast to for example America's insanely massive deficit, see here for example, and sort by worst to best, note how insanely large the US figure is in the negative compared to even the closest member on the list? []

    The only reason you believe there's some kind of belief about inherent superiority is because you have that mindset yourself, until you lose that you wont be able to get over this stupid idea that Europeans think they are innately superior. Believing they are doing some things better that lead to for example, lower infant mortality, longer life expectancy, higher levels of personal happiness, etc. does not in any way imply this is because of some innate superiority or belief in such.

  • by jandar ( 304267 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @05:59AM (#41648103)

    they're not in "bad guy" territory yet

    They are in "bad guy" territory at the latest with Guantanamo. This incarceration and torture of people without enough evidence to start a trial is way past the limits of civilisation. If they are shocked about it like about Abu Greibh and abolish it immediately but no they continue it shameless for years after years.

    Guantanamo is only the most visible tip of the iceberg. The whole war in Iraq was against international law and without any evidence of this "weapons of mass destruction" (the whole non-US world was laughing about the presentation of the pretended "facts"). Abduction and torture of foreign citizens also is not a attribute of "good guy".

    I could ramble about so many "bad guy" things the USA have done lately, my keyboard would drown in the froth forming at my mouth. I'm not sure the EU would be acting better in the same position, but the USA are doing it right now in reality before our eyes.

  • Re:Good to hear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heypete ( 60671 ) <> on Sunday October 14, 2012 @07:21AM (#41648329) Homepage

    You recall incorrectly - the GPS constellation has never had any birds in polar orbit, and has always provided poor coverage at very high latitudes.

    On a more detailed note, GPS satellites are in inclined orbits at 55 degrees. This means that a receiver at the pole would only ever see a satellite reach a maximum altitude of 55 degrees over the horizon.

    While is certainly isn't as great as at lower latitudes, it's more than adequate to provide location information -- it's not like the poles have huge buildings and whatnot that would obstruct the view. I wouldn't really consider that to be "poor" coverage, but your mileage may vary.

    The Russian GLONASS system has satellites in inclined orbits at 64.8 degrees as Russia is located at higher latitudes than the continental US. This can get proportionally better coverage at higher latitudes.

    Galileo is planned with a 56 degree inclination.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner