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Old 24-01-2007, 21:14   #1
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Sunspot Cycles

Has anyone given any thought to the possible effects of the current sunspot cycle, which will commence in the next several months and peak in 2012? I wonder about this because 1) the next cycle is supposed to be severe, 2) severe solar activity could seriously degrade or even knock out the GPS array, and 3) too many sailors don't have a clue where they are without their GPS. For further information, see:

Huge solar storms could zap Earth, scientists warn / Next sunspot cycle may disrupt power, communications

Stronger Solar Storms Predicted; Blackouts May Result

Steve Quayle News Alerts

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Old 24-01-2007, 21:19   #2
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Originally Posted by taojones
too many sailors don't have a clue where they are without their GPS.
No matter where you go, there you are!
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Old 24-01-2007, 22:00   #3
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Old 24-01-2007, 22:43   #4
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There are two camps in the scientific world in regards to severity of the cycle. One suggests and for very good scientific reasons that the next cycle could be severe. The other suggests and for very good scinetific reasons that the cycle will be weak. So I wouldn't go worrying about what it becomes till it becomes it.
The main issue with solar storms is that the solar flare energy creates drag on a satillite. Low orbit satillites are prone to being dragged down into the earths atmosphere and destroyed. GPS satillites are not extreme low orbits, so are not as "fragile" as those that are. Plus there are a large number of GPS birds up there, so one or two taken out is not a major issue. The system is built to cope with redundancy.
Satillites that are huge energy users and have large solar panels are also prone to damage. When a storm is on it's way, the people that control the birds up there try to arrange the panels in such a way as to lessen the chance of possible damage.
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Old 25-01-2007, 04:25   #5
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A panel of space weather forecasters has been sifting through about three dozen predictions that differ widely* in how intense the next solar cycle will be. The group, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and funded by NASA, aims to make an official prediction in spring 2007.

* No clear prediction has emerged yet from the various computer models that simulate the sun's activity. Current sunspot forecasts vary so wildly, that predictions for the peak sunspot number (cycle 24) range from 42 to 185.

Solar Cycle Progression
Presented by the NOAA/Space Environment Center
”The charts on this page depict the progression of Solar Cycle 23. The charts and tables are updated by the Space Environment Center monthly using the latest ISES predictions. Observed values are initially the preliminary values which are replaced with the final values as they become available.”
Goto: Solar Cycle Progression
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Old 25-01-2007, 04:31   #6
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Weak or severe, what are you going to do to change it? it's going to happen anyway.
Me, I'm going to enjoy the increased propagation on the higher frequencies.
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Old 25-01-2007, 04:50   #7
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Quote:
I'm going to enjoy the increased propagation on the higher frequencies.
A cold beer works too.
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Old 25-01-2007, 05:27   #8
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Having worked on NASA's ACE, CLUSTER, and FAST missions (all created to measure plasma levels in and around the Earth's magnetosheath, as well as between the Earth and Sun), I agree with Wheels and Gord.
I think there is a chance of problems with the GPS, but my guess is the first outage we will have will be due to a war rather than the sun "kicking it up a knotch."

Did anyone see China's test of the satellite destroyer last week? Quite a few countries have these. USA's tactical bombs (non-nuclear) rely on GPS. What's the first thing you'd take out if the US was looking to beat you up?

Anyway, it's best to know how to navigate without electronics still. Look at that guy in the little 14ft yellow boat in the other thread. He FREAKED OUT just because his electronics were damaged. I'm a tech type guy. Have always been interested in electronics, etc... but... they are only a luxury on a boat. I try to keep that in mind. Be prepared to navigate without GPS.
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Old 25-01-2007, 13:11   #9
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Old 25-01-2007, 13:22   #10
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In my opinion it is critical to understand basic nav tools. I have taught myself how to take noon sights and now will begin learning to take star sights, much harder. When I learned to fly (VFR) I was able to get a good understanding of dead reckoning. Electronics are great, and I love to use them, but always understand the basics. Of anything you do...
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Old 26-01-2007, 17:08   #11
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Originally Posted by ssullivan
Did anyone see China's test of the satellite destroyer last week? Quite a few countries have these. USA's tactical bombs (non-nuclear) rely on GPS. What's the first thing you'd take out if the US was looking to beat you up?
A Chinese first strike against the GPS constellation can only represent the start of a full-scale war between the US and China. The US will retaliate against Chinese strategic forces to prevent those forces doing any further damage to the US. (You would expect further attack if another country destroyed one of your important military systems, wouldn't you?) Meanwhile, the Chinese will realize that they have to use their strategic forces while they still can.

Whether GPS works or not would be very low on your list of problems.
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Old 26-01-2007, 17:48   #12
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When the Pentagon issued its annual report to Congress on China's Military Power last summer it stated "China can currently destroy or disable satellites only by launching a ballistic missile or space-launch vehicle armed with a nuclear weapon." China has since (January 11/07) launched an anti-satellite interceptor missile (ASAT), destroying a (Chinese) weather satellite (orbiting 500 miles above the earth). The missile carried a "kill vehicle", and destroyed the satellite by ramming it.

For at least a decade, Beijing has placed defence emphasis on the development and acquisition of standoff weapons such as ASCMs, long-range LACMs, SRBMs and ASATs (Anti-Satellite Technologies).

However, GPS satellites orbit just under 11,000 miles up (10,988 nautical miles), which is about double the range of the current Chinese ASAT interceptor.
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Old 26-01-2007, 18:48   #13
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The scenario more possible is the US will turn it off / enable selective availability. Under SA it screws up only to a small extent but still leave the decryption required for military use. Just like it used to be. So your position might be off 300 yards. Given it could be off 30 years now it isn't the like anyone will sail off the edge of the earth.

There probably are better targets than GPS infrastructure for the enemy to shoot at. Sorry folks a bunch of Cruisers won't matter one way or the other if the shooting starts. We would be expendable in a military sense, though not without our own resources. It would be all we ever had in the first place.
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Old 26-01-2007, 19:46   #14
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Pat,

"Me, I'm going to enjoy the increased propagation on the higher frequencies."

Me, too! I just worked 3B8CF in Mauritius on 40m CW with a 5-watt QRP rig and a vertical dipole. Got him first call.

Just wait 'til propagation gets better :-)

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Old 26-01-2007, 20:26   #15
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Wish I could propagate with higher frequency.
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