What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

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What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by roscoe » Sun May 22, 2016 11:04 pm

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/ ... gps-failed

"The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently determined that, within thirty seconds of a catastrophic G.P.S. shutdown, a position reading would have a margin of error the size of Washington, D.C. After an hour, it would be Montana-sized."

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What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by roscoe » Mon May 23, 2016 1:00 am

Just read this in the New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/ ... gps-failed

"The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently determined that, within thirty seconds of a catastrophic G.P.S. shutdown, a position reading would have a margin of error the size of Washington, D.C. After an hour, it would be Montana-sized."

Kind of disappointing. I had thought they would be accurate for a few weeks.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by modustollens » Mon May 23, 2016 1:02 am

I think there would be big problems given that people can't seem to keep out of trouble even with GPS; like this woman, e.g.: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener ... -1.3580930

Items like GPS displace skills with technology; so if the technology fails, then there are no skills developed to take the technology's place.

I think I was lucky for when I was growing up there was no such as GPS and we had to learn how to use and read a map and compass, how to interpret the map's representation and to integrate that with what we can directly observe in the land, rather than just blindly follow an arrow. We learned to pay attention to where were going else we'd waste hours and hours trying to correct mistakes.

Once I went along with a university outdoor club for a march in the back-country, a place I had been many times on my own. I brought my map and compass; but the lead guy had a GPS. So, he swayed the group about how we should proceed navigationally. He'd turn on the gps, see where it said he was; then he'd turn it off, put it in his pack and start heading where we needed to go. That worked, for about 200m, then he'd start vectoring off randomly; it was even worse in the thick bush. He had no way to watch his bearing step after step (and I find a compass does this way better than a gps). Once he walked them out onto dead end ithmus jutting out into a pond; I watched him from a hill above the pond via my binoculars pulling out his GPS and trying to figure out what was going on. I did not follow there (given that our heading was 35 degrees off the entrance to that ithmus, and there was no need to go down the hill leading to it.). The technology is interesting, but not at the expense of basic skills. Indeed, even the technology itself requires some skill to understand and use correctly.

I do have a GPS, but would never think of doing any serious bush work with this as my primary or only tool. And when I go back to places where navigation is required, I still use the compass as the primary tool. I use the GPS in urban settings a lot though, for road navigation.

Of course, there are parts of the modern economy that use GPS data and not just the single guy off marching in the woods. Aircraft and ship navigation still has some other options (LORAN, eg.) thankfully.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Stercutus » Mon May 23, 2016 7:44 am

Strangely the organization that would be least effected would be the US military. The military trains their leaders on how to navigate without GPS, few other organizations do that these days. While there are GPS guided munitions there are lots of other munitions out there. It would screw the military up, just not as bad as say a large shipping firm.
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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by raptor » Mon May 23, 2016 10:38 am

modustollens wrote: Items like GPS displace skills with technology; so if the technology fails, then there are no skills developed to take the technology's place.

QFT!

I experienced this first hand recently when a GPS unit failed on me while transiting on my boat at night. I am an experienced navigator/sailor/pilot and was in very familiar waters as well as being in well lighted channel. Nevertheless the initial though was one of panic with an OFG! where am I?

Never mind the fact I knew where I was and where I was going and had done many times in the past. Still it freaked me out.

I slowed down, confirmed my position and then proceeded using other navigation methods. I was shocked that since I now had to manually compute set and drift, speed over ground and course to steer how rusty those skills were. It is so easy to look at the GPS which normally displays all of this date this along the navigation chart for the area.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by JT42 » Mon May 23, 2016 12:07 pm

modustollens wrote:...Aircraft and ship navigation still has some other options (LORAN, eg.) thankfully.

MT
Just to clarify: LORAN was decommissioned some time ago but there are other options, at least for aircraft, that are still available for en-route navigation (VOR, DME, NDBs) in addition to systems to aid in landing (ILS).

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Confucius » Mon May 23, 2016 12:17 pm

It's my understanding that all SOLAS vessels have a sextant on board and the knowledge of how to fix location that way. Airplanes over land should be able to get where they're going with VOR/DME and maybe the odd NDB (not too many NDBs still operating on the west coast).

I get the feeling airplanes over the ocean would be pretty well boned unless they were pretty close to shore...

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by raptor » Mon May 23, 2016 2:54 pm

JT42 wrote:
modustollens wrote:...Aircraft and ship navigation still has some other options (LORAN, eg.) thankfully.

MT
Just to clarify: LORAN was decommissioned some time ago but there are other options, at least for aircraft, that are still available for en-route navigation (VOR, DME, NDBs) in addition to systems to aid in landing (ILS).
There is an effort underway to revive the E-Loran system. That said I have never even seen an E-Loran receiver.
The eLoran PNT system would use enhanced long-range signals (eLoran) from 19 towers around the country, each with approximately a 1,000-mile range providing overlapping fields from which a device can derive its location. The back-up system would use the remaining Loran infrastructure and provide a secure and reliable cybersecurity insurance policy, said the press release.

The U.S. atomic clock, accurate to one second in 300 million years, also serves as the base timing source for this backup GPS capability. This exceeds the timing needs of modern cell phones, creating an infrastructure backbone that is prepared to handle the evolution of consumer and industry electronic communications in the years ahead, the press release said.
http://gpsworld.com/bill-supports-eloran-as-gps-backup/


There are a bunch of NDB's in my area as well as VOR/DME in my area but unless I am flying they are worthless.

In my case I can use a sextant but it is very difficult to get anything except a noon sight or use one of the planets when you are so close to shore and the stars are obscured by light pollution.

I would simply use the chart, compass and my radar for range and bearing fixes on known points if I was on a boat like I did in the 1970s and 1980s (when my Loran told exactly where I was NOT due to interference issues :D) . If I was in the the air, then I would home in on a couple of the powerful AM transmitters near NOLA to get me within sight of the coast with my ADF (which I do not have on the boat). WWL @ 870 is one.

BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
Last edited by raptor on Mon May 23, 2016 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Close_enough » Mon May 23, 2016 4:42 pm

Stercutus wrote:Strangely the organization that would be least effected would be the US military. The military trains their leaders on how to navigate without GPS, few other organizations do that these days. While there are GPS guided munitions there are lots of other munitions out there. It would screw the military up, just not as bad as say a large shipping firm.
IIRC, during the second Gulf War, the Iraqis were jamming GPS signals to try and defeat JDAM munitions. This is one possible scenario where radio navigation cannot be relied on. For most people it means map and compass, or Google directions and map to get were they're going.

Depending on what other systems are still functional (other radio navigation may be affected) , the biggest affect will be to commercial airlines. Most aircraft no longer have view ports for celestial navigation. They'll be relegated to INS backed up by stop watch and compass. The smaller bluewater ships will be in a similar situation, but most won't carry an INS system and will have to rely dead reckoning and a sextant.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by cv66er » Mon May 23, 2016 7:45 pm

raptor wrote:BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the US GPS system is down, but GLONASS is up.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by raptor » Mon May 23, 2016 10:21 pm

Agreed...but still the possibility does exist.

I also consider the likelyhood of ELoran (if it were working) and even NDBs functioning reliably if GPS infrastructure has failed.

IMO if GPS is down you need to plan on everything else electronic being AFU'ed.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Mon May 23, 2016 10:46 pm

Most people who use *GPS* don't even really use the DoD Global Positioning Satellite system.

GPS has enterered the vernacular of 21st century English as any electronic map that pings your location. To most people this is a maps app on a smart phone which uses quadangulation or triangulation with cell towers to fix your location. In a disaster, these will last until backup generators go down. About 48 hours unless maintained, the calamity of the event I imagine will determine if the generators get serviced.

Yes, the DoD GPS system will go very bad very quickly if it was to go completely black all at once. But an EMP or solar flare Biblical or Sci-Fi proportions would have to happen to make this so.
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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by NT2C » Mon May 23, 2016 10:56 pm

cv66er wrote:
raptor wrote:BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the US GPS system is down, but GLONASS is up.
I can think of a couple. There was real concern a couple years back that the US system was going to start losing accuracy, because we didn't have the launch capability to easily replace satellites as they failed, nor a supply of replacements ready for launch, and many of them in orbit were getting to their end of life stages. I didn't keep up with the story after that, so I'm not sure how the problem worked out, or even if it is worked out at this point, but if something were to damage more than a few of them (CME, debris field, whatever) I think we'd be hard pressed to replace them. And given that the two systems (GPS and GLONASS) have their constellations focused slightly differently (GLONASS covers more of the polar regions than we do) it's conceivable that whatever hits one might miss the other.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by flybynight » Mon May 23, 2016 11:02 pm

cv66er wrote:
raptor wrote:BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the US GPS system is down, but GLONASS is up.
The obvious scenario would be war with Russia
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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Halfapint » Mon May 23, 2016 11:14 pm

flybynight wrote:
cv66er wrote:
raptor wrote:BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the US GPS system is down, but GLONASS is up.
The obvious scenario would be war with Russia
Edit: Upon reading more on the systems I realized how ignorant I truly was. Removed part of my reply because it wasn't at all factual.

But I love this forum I kinda went down a rabbit hole researching how many satellites GPS has and GLONASS as well as others. Very interesting.
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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by ineffableone » Tue May 24, 2016 1:06 am

If GPS failed, this would be the result in the first world countries.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by roscoe » Tue May 24, 2016 3:30 am

My thought was an EMP. I don't know if a localized groundburst (let's say someone had a suitcase nuke) would wipe the satellites overhead, but if so, it would hit GPS and GLONASS and whatever else.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by flybynight » Tue May 24, 2016 4:12 am

[/quote]

Edit: Upon reading more on the systems I realized how ignorant I truly was. Removed part of my reply because it wasn't at all factual.

[/quote]
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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by cv66er » Tue May 24, 2016 6:59 pm

flybynight wrote:
cv66er wrote:
raptor wrote:BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the US GPS system is down, but GLONASS is up.
The obvious scenario would be war with Russia
I think the US might shoot back.

Both systems have similar weaknesses, and the US GPS system has more birds, so better chances to survive.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Redshirt » Wed May 25, 2016 1:02 am

cv66er wrote:
raptor wrote:BTW the Russian GPS system does have a separate infrastructure from the US GPS system so if your receiver can pick up the Russian GLONASS or the soon be operational European Union’s Galileo and China’s Beidou system you may still have GPS capability.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the US GPS system is down, but GLONASS is up.
Operator sending control signals when suddenly windows 10 offers to be installed on the system?

:awesome:

Though seriously, operator error could accidentally kill a GPS sat. I'm assuming that we have procedures against sending signals to them all at once for that reason.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Radio_man » Thu May 26, 2016 4:36 am

I have no doubt most military's could deploy a unmanned rocket with small satellite payload at a moments notice if needed .

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by Aikibiker » Thu May 26, 2016 5:47 am

A direct attack on the Master Control Station in Colorado springs by a terrorist group would probably take things offline for a while. The MCS is located on Peterson Air Force Base which also houses NorthCOM, so it is essentially unguarded against an attack. My old job was base security overseas. Most CONUS installations I have have horrible security if they have any at all. They are focused more on crime control and prevention then stopping terrorist attacks.

There are four Monitoring Stations that collect data from the satellites they can "see" forward that info to the MCS, which then makes adjustments and forwards them to the Ground Antennas, which are co-located with the Monitoring Stations. They are located in areas that are geographically isolated and difficult to get to. I am not sure if one of the monitoring stations could take over command and control for the GPS constellation, but it stands to reason that such a backup roll would be part of the system or at least something that could be implemented pretty quickly. The four monitoring stations are at Ascension Island, Cape Canaveral, Diego Garcia, and Kwajalein Atoll.
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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by NT2C » Thu May 26, 2016 9:46 am

Radio_man wrote:I have no doubt most military's could deploy a unmanned rocket with small satellite payload at a moments notice if needed .
I disagree but, be that as it may, the other half of the problem is that we have very few spares. The last time I read up on this we had two, with one more being built. At the same time, they were estimating that we'd need ten replacements over the next few years (I read this in 2014) due to satellites reaching their "end of life", and that if more than four or five were to fail we simply could not replace them and the system would start losing accuracy.

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Re: What Would Happen If G.P.S. Failed?

Post by raptor » Thu May 26, 2016 11:10 am

There was such a system using Minuteman II missiles but I think they have been phased out. These were primarily communication satellites though to used to transmit Emergency Action Messages...i.e. the nuclear launch orders and codes et. al.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AN/DRC-8_ ... ons_System


One thing to bear in mind for missiles and such at fixed locations an initial guidance system is a cheap and highly accurate means of navigation. They were quite popular in long hail jets before the advent of GPS. They are set based upon a known geographic point and simply measures the movement from that point.

The accuracy is quite high (short term) and requires nothing but working initial guidance gear and a very accurate knowledge of your starting point.

The accuracy degrades quickly but when your flight time is 30 +/- minutes and your payload is a 170 kt warhead the accuracy is good enough after 30 minutes. :wink:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertial_ ... ion_system


In the long term the accuracy of initial guidance systems used be only as accurate as the updates the vehicles received and they used to be coupled to Omega and Loran/Decca stations to get position updates. They also typically had dual or even triple systems and would average to multiple positions. All of this complexity is now replaced and exceeded in capability by a $100 GPS receiver.

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