Eighth European Space Weather Week
November 28 - December 02, 2011 - Namur, Belgium


Space Weather Risks to Navigation
How concerned should we be?

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) such as the US Global Positioning System (and Europe's future Galileo system) are now part of the technological infrastructure that is critical to our modern civilization. They are pervasive and accurate methods for determining the location of objects on or near the Earth. Even more important is their role as a very accurate source of time signals, e.g. for synchronization of telephone and power networks and for financial trading. But these systems are vulnerable to a number of space weather effects - in particular, the signal delays and scintillation caused by the ionosphere, but also space-weather-induced anomalies on-board the satellites that provide the GNSS signals. The panel for this debate comprises several experts on these effects. They will debate the importance of space weather as a factor limiting the accuracy and resilience of GNSS and the methods by which that accuracy and resilience are improved - whether by better GNSS performance or by use of complementary systems. We will welcome and encourage audience comments and questions on this topic.

The panel

AERTS Wim, GNSS scientist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium.
Wim Aerts (1978, Wilrijk, Belgium) received the MSc and PhD degree in electrical engineering from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). He worked as a research and teaching assistant at the Telecommunications and Microwaves (TeleMic) division and the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC) division of the K.U.Leuven (2001 -- 2009). During these years, he focused on antenna research, ranging from arrays for satellite communication to sensors for cryptographic electromagnetic side channel analysis. In 2004 he became responsible for the management of the antenna measurement lab. Currently he is a research engineer at the Royal Observatory of Belgium managing the precise timing facility and the Belgian part of the EUREF GNSS network. His research deals with improving accuracy of timing and positioning. From 2009 onwards he is guest lecturer at the Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg (KHLim, Association K.U.Leuven) with an engineering course on analog and digital telecommunications.
He states that 'The major concern with respect to space weather for GNSS users, is radio interference. The sun is however not the only source of radio signals that might disturb GNSS reception. As the LightSquared example shows us, in future even more (man made) interference can be expected. Consequently, interference counter measures should be (and actually are already) implemented in GNSS antennas and receivers. For the GNSS community, hence, predicting space weather is less importat. Should the radio emission from the sun however be drastically different from man made radio interference, then interference counter measures should be designed in such way that they are able to deal with radio emission from the sun as well.
JONES Bryn, CEO at SolarMetrics Limited, Captain A340 at Virgin Atlantic Airways.
KAMALABADI Farzad, Programme Director at the NSF of Aeronomy.
ROBERT Emilien, Navigation/Space Weather expert at Eurocontrol
SLEEWAEGEN Jean-Marie , GNSS Expert & Systems Architect at Septentrio NV.
Since 1999, Jean-Marie Sleewaegen is responsible for the GNSS signal processing, system architecture and technology development at Septentrio Satellite Navigation. He has been a chief designer of all GNSS receivers developed by the company. He holds several patents in the field of GNSS signal processing and received the Institute of Navigation (ION) Burka award in 1999. From 1995 to 1999, he worked at the Royal Observatory of Belgium where he performed research on receiver-induced effects in GPS high-precision measurements. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Brussels in 1999.
A few words about Space Weather Risks to Navigation: What is most important at this time of rising solar activity is to collect as much data as possible during space weather events in order to quantify the effect of ionospheric disturbances on modern GNSS navigation. We cannot only rely on past data from the last solar cycles, because the GNSS landscape has considerably changed the last years. More systems and satellites are available, modernized signals are transmitted not only on L1 but also on L2 and L5, and receiver algorithms have improved. Besides, the reliance on high-accuracy GNSS positioning such as Real Time Kinematic or Precise Point Positioning has significantly increased worldwide. Those applications, which rely on phase measurements, are particularly exposed to ionospheric disturbances.
This stresses the importance of initiatives such as the FP7-funded CIGALA project, where a network of state-of-the-art multi-frequency multi-system iono monitoring GNSS receivers in Brazil is used to assess the effect of scintillation on the performance of modern high-precision GNSS positioning. The data collected by such networks are essential to help us assess the real extend of the space weather threat.

The moderator
The moderator is Stuart Clark, a science journalist and author of a book on the grandfathers of space weather "The Sun Kings", www.stuartclark.com.
He is a Visiting Fellow of the University of Hertfordshire.

Tuesday Nov 29, 2011 from 18:30-19:30, Plenary Room - Felicien ROPS. The debate is open to the press, to the public and to the scientific community.