Monday, 19 April 2010

Volcanic Ash effecting Satellite GPS Systems around globe


The mass of fine particle now circulating the globe as a result of the Volcanic eruption in Iceland have been blamed for GPS systems such as Satellite navigation units in cars and navigational aids in aircraft becoming slow to acquire a signal and in some cases absolutely useless.

This is due to the fine particles of volcanic ash reflecting the signals from the satellites orbiting the earth and blocking their transmission of data to the units on the ground.

Andre Ward of the Institute of Geological Information and Technology Solution service (UK) said "People may observe a longer duration awaiting satellite lock when they boot their Sat Nav's, and some may find that their systems are unable to locate a satellite fix at all. My own system which I have in my car which normally takes 60-90 seconds to gain satellite lock is now taking up to 5 mins to acheive this".
The grounding of aircraft around the world due to the presence of the volcanic ash in the atmosphere is due to worries about the effect of it's ingestion into jet engines, damage to wing leading edges and aerodynamic surfaces and also it's effect on increasingly sophisticated navigational aids.

The particles of volcanic ash are expected to disperse over a few weeks, but in the meantime people are being urged to rely less upon GPS navigation systems and be prepared for possible interruptions in the facility.



Anonymous said...

My garmin GPS running watch took over five minutes to lock onto the signal on saturday.
I thought it might be the volcanic clouds, guess I was right.
I live in the south of the UK

alanproj said...

glad its not just me. i use a fitness app on my nokia which uses gps and it had me travelling at 500 mph on a 300 ml walk.

Anonymous said...

We have two satellite controlled clocks at work and at 4pm today both wizzed round and went back to 12noon..... bizarre

PeaceBang said...

I thought I was going to have to take my Garmin in to be fixed. I live on the South Shore of Boston, MA.

Marek said...

I can't really speak for all those others but we just did some tests in London and were able to track satellites easily with consumer level devices. Often if people have had their GPS receivers turned off for a while it can take time for what's called the almanac to download before you can acquire signals quickly. From a scientific point of view it is very unlikely that the gas cloud would do anything that significant to GPS type signals.

Marek Ziebart, University College London

Anonymous said...

this week I found it was faster and stronger than before, and inbuilding reception that didnt have before. Neil - Redditch.

Steve WP said...

Don't know if it is definitely down to this, but suspect as much, since I had a run out on my bike today with 3 GPS units, all of which failed to consistantly hold onto lock of the satellites. Granted, one of them has always struggled to keep up with high acceleration on the bike, but the other two are very much tried and tested units which have never failed me.

Anonymous said...

My Nokia N97mini failed to obtain a signal for long periods and I almost sent it back for repair. At the same time my Garmin Nuvi had no problems.