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Government to Airlines: Use GAGAN or Face Consequences

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The government has warned domestic airlines of `consequences’ if they did not adopt the Rs 774 crore GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation system. The warning came during a meeting called by the DGCA earlier this week with all stakeholders, including the airlines, who have not availed of the system even 18 months after its launch.Jointly developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI), at an investment of Rs 774 crore, the GAGAN system was officially launched by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju in July last year. It is said to make airline operations more efficient and cut down costs as it reduces the separation between aircraft, increases air safety and fuel efficiency. The National Civil Aviation Policy, announced by the government in June, makes it mandatory for all aircraft registered in India from January 1, 2019 to be GAGAN-enabled.[IMG]

A notice issued by the DGCA dated December 19 stated that most aircraft registered in India are still not equipped with this technology. “This assumes significance as many airlines and operators have placed orders for many more aircraft which may not be equipped with necessary airborne equipment and thus not be GAGANcompliant,” DGCA director general B S Bhullar said. (Image Source: http://indiandefence.com/threads/irnss-and-gagan-explained.6981/)

However, in order for the domestic airlines to availing of the GAGAN system, they would have to make their aircraft GAGAN-compliant, which would entail a huge investment on their part. A DGCA source said that while smaller aircraft like ATRs and Bombardiers which are currently in the Indian carriers’ fleet are already equipped with the GAGAN system, bigger planes such as the Airbus A320, A330, Boeing 737, B777 and B 787s, among others, need to be retrofitted. Eight major domestic carriers – Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways, JetLite, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia – have a total of 427 such planes currently in service.

“An airline will have to shell out as much as Rs 1-2 crore per aircraft to install the GAGAN system. Going by the number of planes that need to be retrofitted, the minimum investment will be at least Rs 400 crore,” the source said.

According to an ISRO spokesperson, GAGAN’s GEO footprint extends from Africa to Australia and has expansion capability for seamless navigation services across the region. “GAGAN provides the additional accuracy, availability, and integrity necessary for all phases of flight, from en route through approach for all qualified airports,” the spokesperson said.

The system is inter-operable with other international satellite based tracking systems such as the WAAS (US), EGNOS (Europe) and MSAD (Japan).

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India-Nepal border pillars to be GPS-enabled

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More than 8,000 pillars along the India-Nepal border will be linked to a Global Navigation Satellite System, allowing authorities for the first time to effectively manage the over 1,700-km-long porous boundary.Credit: InfoNepal

Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Nepal-India Boundary Global Navigation Satellite System (NIB GNSS) will be used for the boundary pillars. The decision in this regard was made at the third meeting of Nepal-India Boundary Working Group (BWG) which concluded here yesterday, a statement from the ministry said.(Photo Credit: InfoNepal)

Krishna Raj BC, Director-General of the Survey Department, led the Nepali delegation during the three-day meeting while the Indian delegation was led by Swarna Subba Rao, Surveyor General of India. “The BWG meeting reviewed reports submitted before it by the SOC (Survey Officials’ Committee) and Joint Field Survey Teams (FST), and appreciated the progress made on the ongoing boundary work carried out at Nepal-India border,” it said.

“Both the delegations reaffirmed the importance of effective boundary management. In this context, they emphasised the importance of making local authorities and people living along the border aware of the field works being conducted by joint field teams,” it said.

Before the BWG meeting, the fourth meeting of Survey Officials’ Committee (SOC) was held here from 20 to 22 June. The two countries have decided that the SOC would next meet in September this year and the BWG in August 2017, in India.

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Beyond GPS: 5 Next-Generation Technologies for Positioning, Navigation & Timing (PNT)

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It is difficult to imagine the modern world without the Global Positioning System (GPS), which provides real-time positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data for countless military and civilian uses. Thanks in part to early investments that DARPA made to miniaturize GPS technology, GPS today is ubiquitous. It’s in cars, boats, planes, trains, smartphones and wristwatches, and has enabled advances as wide-ranging as driverless cars, precision munitions, and automated supply chain management.DARPA is pioneering the next-generation of PNT capabilities beyond GPS, which includes using miniaturization, pulsed lasers, quantum physics and even lightning strikes for external navigational fixes.

As revolutionary as GPS has been, however, it has its limitations. GPS signals cannot be received underground or underwater and can be significantly degraded or unavailable during solar storms. More worrisome is that adversaries can jam signals. GPS continues to be vital, but its limitations in some environments could make it an Achilles’ heel if warfighters rely on it as their sole source of PNT information. To address this problem, several DARPA programs are exploring innovative technologies and approaches that could eventually provide reliable, highly accurate PNT capabilities when GPS capabilities are degraded or unavailable.

DARPA’s current PNT portfolio includes five programs, focused wholly or in part on PNT-related technology:

  1. Adaptable Navigation Systems (ANS) is developing new algorithms and architectures for rapid plug-and-play integration of PNT sensors across multiple platforms, with the intent to reduce development costs and shrink deployment time from months to days. ANS aims to create better inertial measurement devices by using cold-atom interferometry, which measures the relative acceleration and rotation of a cloud of atoms stored within a sensor.
  1. Microtechnology for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (Micro-PNT) leverages extreme miniaturization made possible by DARPA-developed micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. Micro-PNT comprises a portfolio of diverse efforts collectively devoted to develop highly stable and precise chip-scale gyroscopes, clocks and complete integrated timing and inertial measurement devices.
  1. Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR) intends to make the world’s most accurate atomic clocks—which currently reside in laboratories—both robust and portable. QuASAR researchers have developed optical atomic clocks in laboratories with a timing error of less than 1 second in 5 billion years. Making clocks this precise portable could improve upon existing military systems such as GPS, and potentially enable entirely new radar, LIDAR and metrology applications.
  1. The Program in Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering (PULSE) applies the latest in pulsed laser technology to significantly improve the precision and size of atomic clocks and microwave sources, enabling more accurate time and frequency synchronization over large distances. These capabilities are essential to fully leverage super-accurate atomic clocks, as clocks such as those that QuASAR seeks to build are more precise than our current ability to synchronize between them. If successful, PULSE technology could enable global distribution of time precise enough to take advantage of the world’s most accurate optical atomic clocks.
  1. The Spatial, Temporal and Orientation Information in Contested Environments (STOIC) program seeks to develop PNT systems that provide GPS-independent PNT with GPS-level timing in a contested environment. STOIC comprises three primary elements that when integrated have the potential to provide global PNT independent of GPS: long-range robust reference signals, ultra-stable tactical clocks, and multifunctional systems that provide PNT information between multiples users.

In time, dependence on GPS may be as unimaginable as is the idea today of living without it.

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Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Towards PNT

Algorithms used in the Airborne Lidar Processing System (ALPS)

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The Airborne Lidar Processing System (ALPS) analyzes Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) data—digitized laser-return waveforms, position, and attitude data—to derive point clouds of target surfaces. A full-waveform airborne lidar system, the EAARL seamlessly and simultaneously collects mixed environment data, including submerged, sub-aerial bare earth, and vegetation-covered topographies.

(A typical Airborne LiDAR system. Image Source)

ALPS uses three waveform target detection algorithms to determine target positions within a given waveform: centroid analysis, leading edge detection, and bottom detection using water-column backscatter modeling. The centroid analysis algorithm detects opaque hard surfaces. The leading edge algorithm detects topography beneath vegetation and shallow, submerged topography. The bottom detection algorithm uses water-column backscatter modeling for deeper submerged topography in turbid water.

The report describes slant range calculations and explains how ALPS uses laser range and orientation measurements to project measurement points into the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system. Parameters used for coordinate transformations in ALPS are described, as are Interactive Data Language-based methods for gridding EAARL point cloud data to derive digital elevation models. Noise reduction in point clouds through use of a random consensus filter is explained, and detailed pseudocode, mathematical equations, and Yorick source code accompany the report.

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India should build its own space station

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India should actively get into building its own space station in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) as its next space frontier since the time is opportune for this, M.Y.S. Prasad, who retired as director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) said.

India-Should-Build-Its-Own-Space-Station

(Artistic rendition of ISS)

“It is time to look 10-15 years ahead rather than planning for incremental growth activities. Building our own space station will be beneficial on many counts and would also generate around 15,000 high-skilled jobs,”, he added.

He said the technology development needed for manned missions to Low Earth Orbit and space stations in Low Earth Orbit will enhance the knowledge and competence of the country’s space agency — Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) — and the industrial capacity of the country.

The research and development (R&D) activities in these areas need the evolution of re-entry technologies, life support systems, safe recovery systems, more reliable launch and spacecraft systems, long-term platforms operating in space for specialised experiments and others, Prasad remarked.

He said India should get into the development of a rocket that can carry 7.5 tonnes into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) and 10 tonnes into Low Earth Orbit. The setting up of a space station will result in the development of orbit-docking technology which countries like the US, Russia and China now possess.

“Developing the necessary technology, building and maintaining the space station involve huge financial outlay. Human flight is what ISRO should look at,” Radhakrishnan said.

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Flipkart launches its map services, ties up with MapUnity

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Flipkart Maps is about to make its debut on MapUnity, a Social Technology Lab by Dr. Ashwin Mahesh. MapUnity has started TechNagara, a social network for all the chosen cities in the ‘Smart Cities’ mission and a few other prominent ones. TechNagara brings together public information about governance and also facilitates and promotes public engagement in solving the key problems of metropolitan areas.

In Bengaluru, the agencies whose data may be integrated into this platform are BWSSB, BBMP, BESCOM, BMTC, BMRCL, Bangalore One, BMRDA, BDA, the traffic police etc.

In a discussion with sources inside Flipkart, it was confirmed that Flipkart Maps, a product possibly driven by the acquisition of a 34% stake in Delhi-based digital mapping MapMyIndia by Flipkart in a Rs 1600 crore deal in December 2015, had indeed tied up with MapUnity. At the time, Flipkart had said that the deal was expected to give it a competitive edge in terms of supply chain and logistics. Whether the Maps division will turn into a competitor for the likes of Google remains to be seen.

In Bengaluru, the agencies whose data may be integrated into this platform are BWSSB, BBMP, BESCOM, BMTC, BMRCL, Bangalore One, BMRDA, BDA, the traffic police etc.

In 2006, MapUnity also built the first Transport Information System for a major city in India – Bengaluru (www.btis.in) and has since developed platforms for urban management, heritage and history, environment, and safety.

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NASA, ISRO to Jointly Launch a Satellite That Will Help Monitor Climate Change & Study Earthquakes

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Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and US space agency, NASA will jointly launch a satellite to monitor climate change and deformations in the Earth’s crust. Named NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR, the satellite will help study earthquakes and their patterns. It will observe and take measurements of ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and other natural hazards like tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.

NASA-ISRO

However, there is some disagreement over the day of the lauch. While USA said that it was ready to launch the satellite on 2020-21, ISRO is contemplating pre-poning it. NASA administrator Charles Frank Bolden said,”The US is providing L-Band. It will help us look at crustal deformation. We are looking for hints at earthquake detection. We cannot predict

NASA administrator Charles Frank Bolden said,”The US is providing L-Band. It will help us look at crustal deformation. We are looking for hints at earthquake detection. We cannot predict earthquake but we can advise people where it has occurred. We are hoping to launch it by 2020-21.” ISRO’s AS Kiran Kumar, said that the project will not only help in understanding the seismic activity, but also help in monitoring agricultural activities in India. Kumar further added,”The activity involves building a payload with L- and S- bands synthetic aperture radar. It’s a new technology instrument.

While NASA provides the L-Band component of the electronics plus the antenna, which is a huge one. ISRO will provide the S-Band and the payload will be integrated at NASA and then the payload comes back at Bangalore. It gets integrated on the satellite, which is being built and will be launched by ISRO.”

“So, currently the activities are going on in full swing. Both the governments have cleared the basic mission. We are looking at a possible launch with 2021. We are trying to advance the launch and we are working towards it. As far as we are concerned the usage of this got many significant usage for our programme.” “We are very much excited about it because for the first time two of our agencies are working together on such a big scale,” the ISRO chief said. He further added that both the space agencies have formed a working group and they would meet periodically.

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