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Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours 148

Posted by timothy
from the high-level-intrigue dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In an unprecedented total disruption of a fully operational GNSS constellation, all satellites in the Russian GLONASS broadcast corrupt information for 11 hours, from just past midnight until noon Russian time (UTC+4), on April 2 (or 5 p.m. on April 1 to 4 a.m. April 2, U.S. Eastern time). This rendered the system completely unusable to all worldwide GLONASS receivers."
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Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

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  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:05AM (#46648175)
    maybe.
  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:09AM (#46648211) Homepage

    Newer phones have location chipsets that support both GPS and GLONASS. Do they figure out automatically that the GLONASS information is bad and switch to using GPS exclusively?

    I've noticed much increased performance since I upgraded to a phone that uses both systems, especially in cities with a lot of tall buildings like NYC and Chicago.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >tall buildings
      more likely you get are getting a fix from nearby cell towers + wifi

      GPS/GLONASS doesn't work without direct line of sight to the satellites.

      • by beelsebob (529313)

        Actually, the smarter receivers do still work with bounced signals involved.

      • True. But if you, say, double the number of satellites you're tracking, you have a better shot of being in the line-of-sight of three of them...

      • But more satellites that can be read = higher chance of getting them line of sight with obstructions around you.

        Cell + Wifi gives rather good results quickly but I've also noticed GPS + GLONASS reduces the error margin quite substantially compared to plain GPS.

    • by Guppy (12314) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:22AM (#46648345)

      Newer phones have location chipsets that support both GPS and GLONASS. Do they figure out automatically that the GLONASS information is bad and switch to using GPS exclusively?

      To promote their system, Russia decided to make new smartphones without GLONASS support illegal [gpsworld.com] in their country -- so major manufacturers added that capability to all their phones (since there is almost no additional cost to each unit, once the capability is designed into the chipset). Not sure about CDMA chipset, since there is no major CDMA networking in Russia.

      Would be nice if we got Galileo GNSS and Beidou support too, but I'm not expecting it to happen unless they pull a similar stunt with their markets (well, China might).

         

      • -1, uninformative.

        You didn't answer the question (what is the response of a dual-system receiver when one system is sending bad data), you just told the OP what he already stipulated (that the receiver is dual system).

        • by rHBa (976986)
          And with that post you contributed what exactly?

          This isn't stackoverflow you know, there is no requirement to 'answer the question' asked in the post you reply to, just that you have something interesting and preferably on topic.

          This post is obviously off-topic but I'm hoping if you learn a bit about slashdot from it then at least it helped someone.
          • "And with that post you contributed what exactly?"

            I identified a +5,informative post as containing no relevant information beyond repeating what the OP supplied..

            "have something interesting and preferably on topic... learn a bit about slashdot"

            Maybe you should tell that to the person with the 5-digit ID who only quoted the OP's information back to him.

            • by rHBa (976986)
              Are you sure you replied to the correct post? I can see at least three pieces of information that weren't in the OP's post:
              1. To promote their system, Russia decided to make new smartphones without GLONASS support illegal
              2. Major manufacturers added that capability to all their phones since there is almost no additional cost to each unit, once the capability is designed into the chipset
              3. There is no major CDMA networking in Russia.

              If you think any of this information is incorrect then please feel free to post you

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I found they gave the impression things were going better with my GPSr, I synched with satellites quickly, but once in a while I'd have wild, like 1000+ foot inaccuracy. The issue would resolve after a day or so. The last time it happened I disabled GLONASS and haven't used it since. Having it does create a larger constellation to use, but only so long as they all work from the same page -- where they think they are.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:29PM (#46651693) Homepage

        It seems to depend where you are. I find that in the far east GPS is often less accurate that GLONASS. My understanding is that it is due to them using different approximations of the shape of the earth (it isn't quite round, more of an ellipsoid). In fact you get this with some mapping applications too because the map data is based on, say, the Japanese approximation that is well suited to their country but the GPS receiver is using the US approximation (WGS85 or something?)

        I bet if you are stood in Moscow GLONASS is better. I find it is definitely more accurate in Japan, although Japan is supposed to be launching its own GPS supplementary satellites to improve the situation in the next few years.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Seems like the issue is that every nation wants to have its own standard for the shape of the Earth and use it for all the local maps, and rather than standardizing globally the solution is to launch multiple redundant location systems each designed around the local custom.

          The whole thing seems silly, like arguing over where to draw the prime meridian. If every country wanted the prime meridian to go through their own capital, then you couldn't use a single lat/long coordinate to find yourself on any map.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            There are good reasons for having the different models. The actual latitude and longitude lines are fixed, what changes is the way GPS calculates its position. The US model doesn't work well in Japan and probably not too well in Russia, so why would they use it? Maybe the US should switch to the Japanese method if you don't think it matters that everything is off by a few hundred metres.

            Maps are of course drawn with real latitude/longitude markers, not the GPS approximation.

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Maps are of course drawn with real latitude/longitude markers, not the GPS approximation.

              This right here is the problem. If you're going to compute a position using GPS, then the map should be referenced to GPS.

              I'm not saying the US has it right. I'm saying that having a single standard and using it everywhere makes a lot more sense than each country picking their own.

              The bottom line is that if I ask "what is my current lat/long" there are 47 different answers depending on what definitions you make. By all means pick the best overall model, but don't use one model for one system and another

    • It isn't the fact that you have support for both but rather that newer receivers have have improved ability to pull the signals out from background noise and lock on faster.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Newer phones have location chipsets that support both GPS and GLONASS. Do they figure out automatically that the GLONASS information is bad and switch to using GPS exclusively?

      Given GLONASS is really only complete above the Russian Federation and spotty everywhere outside it, a dumb navigation chip would use GPS outside of Russia and GPS/GLONASS inside because it can't acquire a complete GLONASS lock outside.

      A smarter chip may use whatever GLONASS satellites it does see to aid in reception, and the error wo

    • by AMDinator (996330)
      Not specifically phones, but some hardware reacted very badly- headings jumping back and forth, resets of the entire GPS, etc.

      Source- I work in an industry that heavily relies upon GPS. Our dual GPS/GLONASS products (and our competitors') had major issues during this event.
  • Down? Or encrypted? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:14AM (#46648249)

    The system shutting down while still broadcasting "gibberish" seems awfully inconvenient. Sure they just didn't switch to encrypted transmissions?

    • by sjwt (161428)

      Im not up on GLONASS but don't most GPS systems broadcast in a range of service levels, you can only decrypt that access level you pay for, and countries reserve the top level for their military.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by meadowsoft (831583)
        It is called selective availability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_availability#Selective_availability My undergraduate thesis involved how to couple intertial senors using a Kalman filter to compensate for SA in GPS signals. Two years after my project concluded, the US disabled SA in GPS. I doubt that this recent "outage" was related to similar SA in GLONASS. Rather, perhaps it was indeed an encrypted transmission, or was based on a second independent synchronization signal only available to
    • Most likely encrypted.
      They, (The Russians) are massing troupes, maybe by historical Russian standards, a small mass.
      It would make sense that they would test whatever secure military mode that is built into the system.
      12 hours is not an a huge amount of time, but is could be enough to operationally test most of the hardware that is deployed on the 'frontier'.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It wasn't the timing data that was bad, it was the ephemeris. Which is computed periodically by the ground controllers and just repeated by the satellite.

      Modern satellites can operate for quite a while without updates, by using a pre-programmed series of predicted ephemerides. But that doesn't protect them from a corrupted update.

      Apparently what happened was a bad upload, and they had to wait for the satellites to complete an orbit (12 hours) and come back in view of the control station to receive a corre

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      It wasn't gibberish, it was just incorrect orbit data that produced invalid results when used to calculate position on the ground. There was no fault as such, the ground station just sent up some bad data and the satellites relayed it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did not mean to cross the Ukrainian border, satnav was broken.

  • I don't miss them. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @08:23AM (#46648351) Homepage Journal

    I used them along with the US GPS satellites, until a couple months back, but found I was having some serious accuracy issues. Disabling them resolved the issue and I haven't used them since. GPSr unit: Garmin Oregon 600

  • Until very recently the US would intentionally degrade the GPS signal to all but military traffic (all the time). Considering the major military actions going on in the Ukraine by Russia one could suppose this is actually the case, particularly if perhaps the Ukraine military also uses the same system... I would not be terribly surprised if this is the case. The US did the same when they invaded Iraq.

    Unless the gibberish it was transmitting was: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. Then someone needs to press a damn b

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by CajunArson (465943)

      If by "very recently" you mean 14 years ago (literally in the 20th century) that selective availability was turned off.....

      As for your other points:
      1. The U.S. did not degrade any civilian GPS when they invaded Iraq.

      2. If you honestly think the Ukranians are beholden to GLONASS... which doesn't even work for the Russians a large portion of the time.. and are somehow too stupid to buy commercial GPS products that are made in Taiwan and used by the rest of the world, then I have a bridge to sell you.
      Hell, eve

      • From Wikipedia again:

        "...it happened in 2000 once the U.S. military developed a new system that provides the ability to deny GPS (and other navigation services) to hostile forces in a specific area of crisis without affecting the rest of the world or its own military systems."

        Perhaps the US is using such a system actively in the Ukraine region.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          No link, just a quote. tsk. tsk.

          Anyway, how to you disable a radio signal being broad cast to a 1/4 of the world to a small subsection?

          Anyways, 2000 was 14 years ago and literally in the 20th century, like the poster said.

  • YOU get lost.

  • Now we know why that US DOD mini shuttle was up for so long, recently. It was hacking into the Russian satellites.

  • How is this possible?! NCIS:LA's Eric totally fixed the zero day in GLONASS on episode 5x18! During a gun battle on a roof no less!

  • “Bad ephemerides were uploaded to satellites. Those bad ephemerides became active at 1:00 am Moscow time,” reported one knowledgeable source.

    It still could have be the US, who knows.

    • by swb (14022)

      Maybe a little warning to Ivan that despite their recent upgrades in kit, Uncle Sam is still in the game.

  • by Flytrap (939609) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:10AM (#46648827)

    So much speculation from people who do not appear to have even read the article.

    FTA: “Bad ephemerides were uploaded to satellites. Those bad ephemerides became active at 1:00 am Moscow time... a GLONASS fix could not take effect until each satellite in turn passed back over control stations in the Northern Hemisphere to be reset, thus taking nearly 12 hours.”

    The article concludes that the outage was probably due to a human error which "...could conceivably occur with GPS, Galileo, or BeiDou" and advises consumers not to rely on only one system.

    My [completely uninformed and speculative] guess is that the Russians probably rushed a software update to meet some military deadline and it backfired on them - now Putin's troops amassed along the Ukrainian boarder may have to do without whatever feature they were trying to quickly enable.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It was probably as reported, but was around during the cold war, so part of me still wonders. IT's an irrational part of my, but then a childhood full of fear of nuclear hell leaves a mark.

    • The "...could conceivably occur with GPS, Galileo, or BeiDou" part of the article isn't entirely true, though. Galileo is not operational (only four satellites have been launched, all proof-of-concepts), for starters. Beidou is a mixed constellation for which half the coverage doesn't have the access issues of a pure-MEO constellation. A GPS satellite could conceivably have the same problem, but it's easily corrected because GPS is supported by a network of ground stations with global coverage--corrected ep

    • by kbdd (823155)
      "So much speculation from people who do not appear to have even read the article."

      I find that the impact of my arguments suffer when I try to base them on facts. It is so much more fun to shoot from the hip while looking in another direction.

  • So no one else could it. Might have been something to do with Ukraine issue.
  • Ingress (Score:5, Funny)

    by Timothy Hartman (2905293) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:12AM (#46648855)
    My heart goes out to the Russian Resistance team for their downtime.
  • The editors realize that Russia spans 9 time zones right? I think they meant to say Moscow Time. Can you imagine if an article was posted referring to American Time as a time zone?
  • by hhawk (26580) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @09:43AM (#46649177) Homepage Journal

    One person's gibberish is another's encrypted data. Perhaps Russia was testing a encrypted "secure" mode that would switch to in time on conflict, such as an invasion or something like that.

  • Too bad US GPS satellites don't travel over Russia and its territories, eh?. It must have been chaos!

  • Is it possible that GLONASS went into fully encrypted mode? Sort of like GPS did partially during the first Gulf War? It is made for the Russian military, you know. Perhaps they are about ready to invade the Ukraine.... ;-(
  • Following GLONASS directions on your Garmin gets you lost....

  • For those of us who don't have any idea what GNSS or GLONASS stand for...it would really be nice to tell us what the hell this article is actually about.

    GNSS = global navigation satellite system
    GLONASS = "acronym for Globalnaya navigatsionnaya sputnikovaya sistema or Global Navigation Satellite System, is a space-based satellite navigation system operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. It provides an alternative to Global Positioning System (GPS) and is the only alternative navigational system in

  • by Bohnanza (523456) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:16AM (#46650217)
    Glasnost seems to be dead too.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @11:50AM (#46650615) Homepage

    "In an unprecedented total disruption of a fully operational GNSS constellation, all satellites in the Russian GLONASS broadcast corrupt information for 11 hours [...] This rendered the system completely unusable to all worldwide GLONASS receivers."

    Ok! Ok! I must have, I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. Shit. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail.

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