QZSS satellites benefit Western Australia industries, study shows

July 30, 2018  - By
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Curtin University researchers found the launch of new Japanese satellites has boosted satellite positioning capabilities in Western Australia (WA), offering huge potential benefits across numerous industries including mining, surveying and navigation.

New research, published in the journal GPS Solutions, found signals from the recently launched Japanese QZSS satellites provide centimeter-level positioning accuracy, and thus significantly enhanced positioning capabilities in WA, thereby improving accuracy, reliability and availability.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Teunissen, of Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said these results will improve further when the QZSS signals are combined with those from other satellite systems such as the Indian NavIC system.

Teunissen said the analyses done by Curtin’s GNSS Research Centre demonstrated the highly accurate centimeter-level positioning capabilities that can now be achieved.

“Such improved positioning, accuracy and reliability would offer great benefits when applied in fields such as open-pit mining, surveying, hydrography, automated navigation, structural health monitoring, and subsidence and tectonic deformation monitoring used in the geospatial industry,” Teunissen said. “The benefits are not only restricted to positioning, but cover the whole range of satellite signal applications, including atmospheric sensing (ionosphere and troposphere) as used for climate change and space weather studies, and numerical weather prediction.”

Teunissen said WA was in the fortunate and unique geographical position of being located beneath the flight paths of both the Japanese QZSS and the Indian NavIC regional satellite systems.

“Using both satellite systems, QZSS and NavIC, offers huge benefits to users in Australia – and this is an opportunity to work on future developments with such technologies,” Professor Teunissen said.

QZSS satellites visibility. (Left) Color map indicating the percentage of a 24-hour period with at least one QZSS satellite visible above 70° of elevation. (Middle) Ground tracks of the QZSS satellites (Right) Color map indicating the percentage of a 24-hour period with four QZSS satellites visible simultaneously considering a cut-off elevation angle of 10°. All the panels are obtained based on the QZSS constellation on Feb. 2, 2018. (Figure/study authors)

QZSS satellites visibility. (Left) Color map indicating the percentage of a 24-hour period with at least one QZSS satellite visible above 70 degrees of elevation. (Middle) Ground tracks of the QZSS satellites (Right) Color map indicating the percentage of a 24-hour period with four QZSS satellites visible simultaneously considering a cut-off elevation angle of 10 degrees. All the panels are obtained based on the QZSS constellation on Feb. 2, 2018. [Figure/study: S. Zaminpardaz, K. Wang & P.J.G. Teunissen. (CC BY 4.0)]

“The United States of America, for example, can’t use these signals the way we can in Australia, so this places us in a position of great advantage when it comes to the understanding, modelling and analyses of these satellite signals and their many practical applications.

“The tracking and analyses were done using Javad GNSS receivers and Curtin’s theory of integer ambiguity resolution, which enables millimeter-level satellite ranging, and was achieved with the use of only the four currently available QZSS satellites.”

The results bode well for the future, with the Japanese system being further developed from the current four-satellite system into a mature seven-satellite system that is expected to be operational by 2020.

The report, “Australia-First High-Precision Positioning Results with New Japanese QZSS Regional Satellite System, is available online.

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