Weekly Takeaways-April 26,2022
Theme of the Week
GPS Keeps the Lights On When most people think of GPS, they think of maps. Despite this perception, the real trillion-dollar benefit of GPS is as the clock for the world. Without that timing ATMs and credit card transactions would fail and communications would cease. Within a few days, the power would go out. It may be hard to believe that timing from GPS plays a critical role in keeping our power grids functioning. Modern power grids are transforming from passive (large power plants, centralized operations, one-way flow) to active (decentralized, bi-directional flows) architectures. "As a result of that, the active ecosystem requires tighter data timestamping accuracy." Unfortunately, this reliance on timing from GPS is a single point of failure for our nation’s power supply. This has been flagged in reports from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and has motivated the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish the Center for Alternate Synchronization and Timing (CAST). CAST is an effort to develop "alternative precision timing services for the nation’s power grid" that "does not rely on weak, space-based GPS signals." An alternative timing solution is needed. Last Week's Theme: Evolution
A powerful solar flare erupted last week, causing satellite and radio disruptions over Asia. Fortunately, it was not directed towards Earth, though we are building toward a peak of activity in the next few years that could disrupt GPS and other satellites.
In light of these threats to GPS, the US Army is back to teaching its soldiers how to read maps, and an article argues that “GPS alternatives will help protect satellites and signals by making them much less attractive targets. Why attack a system if it’s not a single point of failure?”
Lockheed Martin is proposing adding optical crosslinks to GPS satellites as part of the Space Development Agency (SDA) data transport layer. China has already demonstrated optical links on BeiDou, their answer to GPS.
Advancements continue in quantum development around the world:
The US Department of Defense (DoD) requested a science and technology (S&T) funding increase, including $67M for quantum science, and created an “innovation steering group” to make it easier for the DoD to work with innovative small companies.
Australia released their vision of a quantum future.
India has allocated over $1 billion towards a National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NMQTA), including a national quantum communication network.
Japan unveiled a new quantum strategy.
Taiwan announced plans to invest $273M (NT$8 billion) in quantum technology development, including quantum components, quantum computers, quantum algorithms, and quantum communication.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) observed World Quantum Day with announcements including:
National Quantum Initiative Fact Sheet.
Quantum image gallery set of free images of quantum research from federal agencies.
National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science outlining the US quantum strategy.
Quantum Information Science and Technology Workforce Development National Strategic Plan
GEOINT, April 24 - 27, Denver, CO
Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 9 - 12, Denver, CO
IQT San Diego, May 10-12, 2022, San Diego
Commercialising Quantum, May 17 - 19, London, UK and virtual
Photonics for Quantum, June 6 - 9, Rochester, NY
Quantum.Tech Boston, June 14-15, Boston, MA
Quantum 2.0 Conference and Exhibition, June 13 - 16, Boston, MA
Connectivity Business Summit, June 14-15, New York, NY
Quantum Information Science International Workshop, July 12-14, 2022, New York
Small Satellite Conference, August 6 - 11, Logan, Utah
Optics + Photonics, August 21 - 25, San Diego, CA
ION GNSS+ 2022, September 19 - 23, Denver, CO
IEEE Quantum Week 2022, September 18 - 23, Broomfield, CO
International Timing and Sync Forum, November 7 - 10, Dusseldorf, UK
US National PNT Advisory Board, December 9 - 10, Washington DC
The More You Know...
The modern world relies GPS - but should there be a commercial alternative? GPS is designed and operated by the US Government (a bargain at only $1.5B a year) and made available for civilian use. In decades past all space assets, like GPS, were controlled by governments. But times have changed. Case in point:
NASA is now looking to retire TDRS and replace with commercial alternatives.
This doesn't mean that the government is giving up on space endeavors. It just means that they can focus on defense and scientific missions. Commercial users need a commercial system focused on their needs.