SpaceX’s Starlink could become a new way to navigate the world

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A new study suggests that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites could be used for navigation and GPS in the future.

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Engineers at Ohio State University have developed a means of using the signals transmitted by Starlink to locate the position on Earth.

This is the first time the system has been used by scientists outside of SpaceX, and the researchers say they have only used data related to the satellite’s speed and location – not the actual data being sent through the satellites. .


“We looked at the signal, and then we devised sophisticated algorithms to pinpoint its location, and we showed that it worked with great accuracy,” said the Center for Automated Vehicles Research with Multimodal Assured Navigation (CARMEN) in Ohio. Director Zak Kasas said. State.

“Although Starlink was not designed for navigation purposes, we demonstrated that it was possible to learn parts of the system well enough to use it for navigation.

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“The important catch here is that we’re not ‘listening’ to what’s being sent to these satellites. We’ve learned the signals well enough to use them for navigation purposes.”

Using their algorithm, they were able to identify an antenna on the campus of the University of California, Irvine to within about 7.7 meters – although this is still significantly less accurate than GPS, which measures between 0.3 and five meters. Identifies areas of accuracy. Using other low Earth orbit (LEO) systems, researchers can pinpoint the area to an accuracy of 23 meters.

SpaceX currently has less than 2,000 satellites in orbit, but intends to launch more than 40,000. Researchers say the system’s accuracy will increase as the constellation grows.

Ultimately, it is believed that this research could be used as an alternative – and more secure – version of GPS, as the Global Positioning Systems are weaker due to their distance than the signals given by the LEO constellation.

In addition, GPS uses well-known signals, and while this is an advantage for companies that manufacture equipment that use those signals, it also makes it vulnerable to spoofing or jamming attacks, which, in some situations, can target malicious individuals. The military can also put drones under control. or seaplane.


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