The Coming Solar Storms And Your GPS

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Space scientists say that solar storms are on the rise and do cause problems for satellite-dependent systems like GPS and ADS-B. So, if you're wondering if there's anything to worry about, the short answer is, "yes," but there are caveats. Scientists at NASA's heliophysics division and NOAA's space weather prediction center told AVweb the storms can -- and have -- temporarily shut down certain GPS capability and are likely to (read: will) do it again. While that's not likely to happen very often, the challenge of predicting or identifying those moments (which can last days) and effectively communicating the threat to end-users (pilots) is not easily met. With more pilots relying on satellite-based systems during demanding modes of flight, the stakes are high. Joe Kunches is a space scientist at NOAA who works with industry stakeholders to define and understand their space weather needs.

AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Kunches Friday to determine the nature of the threat, our current defenses, and what the average pilot can do about it. (Hint: Don't throw out inertial navigation, VOR, or DME just yet.)