May 15, 2014

How would Russia shutting down ground stations effect GPS?

One of the responses Russia has threatened in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the US over the annexation of Crimea is that they will shut down Russian GPS stations to disrupt navigation. How would this have any impact on a space based system of satellites, which is what I understand GPS to be?

GPS Expert Dismisses Russian Threat To Suspend Operations

"One of the creators of the U.S.-based Global Positioning System (GPS) has dismissed a threat by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin to suspend the work of U.S. ground systems in Russia, saying it would not have any effect on users, except for possibly Russians themselves.

"GPS is fundamentally a passive system. There's no way the Russians can 'shut down GPS operations,' in Russia or any place else, short of actually jamming the signal," Bradford Parkinson, professor emeritus of aeronautics at Stanford University, told RFE/RL. "It won't have any direct effect on general users because satellites continue to orbit the Earth and broadcast the signal free."

Rogozin said on May 13 that the work of 11 GPS ground stations in Russia could be suspended as of June 1 He further threatened that if an agreement to allow the Russian equivalent of GPS -- called GLONASS -- to operate in the United States was not reached by September 1, the stations would "be permanently terminated." "

It will have minimal impact for the vast majority of users. The GPS Ground Segment has only monitoring stations in Russia. These stations collect data to confirm orbits and help determine any needed clock correction. While Russia is a geographically large country and it might be helpful to have ground monitoring stations there, the system will work fine without them. Remember GPS worked fine before any were in Russia, and probably the only impact will be a slight decrease in accuracy for GPS relying on those satellites that are over Russia for much of their orbit.  Learn more at: http://www.navipedia.net/index.php/GPS_Ground_Segment

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