A Single Point of Failure
Imagine a scenario where a single point of failure can bring down our modern society. It starts with grounded airlines, and ATMs and credit cards not working. By the end of the day all communications are lost, and within a few days the power is out. This is the world after a GPS outage, the sword of Damocles that hangs above us all. The impact is billions of dollars a day as the world grinds to a halt. This almost happened on January 26, 2016 with a simple operator error. But these close calls happen all the time; GPS is hit with thousands of outages a year and prone to jamming and interference. More scary is that it is a big fat juicy target for bad actors that have shown that GPS is vulnerable to anti-satellite missiles, "kamikaze" and "kidnapper" satellites, blinding, jamming and spoofing. The only way to take the target off of GPS is to build an alternative. Last Week's Theme: A Call for Backup
A quick recap of news from the past few months:
GPS jamming by Russia has been reported in Ukraine and even Finland, but at least they have not acted on their threat to blow up the GPS satellites using their 'Star Warrior' anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles.
China also has an ASAT missile, as well as the capability to ‘melt down’ satellites by covertly placing explosives on a satellite and the recent launch of a potential "satellite crushing weapon." They also have the capability to blind GPS satellites with ground-based anti-satellite lasers.
“We’re really at a point now where there’s a whole host of ways that our space systems can be threatened,” admits US Space Force General David Thompson, and that our satellites are attacked "every day."
Space debris is also a concern as it is estimated that "19% of tracked space objects threaten GPS."
A review highlights GPS-related problems experienced by commercial aircraft, UAVs, cargo ships, drones, among many other incidents.
GPS is also susceptible to spoofing, or the the ability to fake a GPS signal. Spoofing was suspected as the cause of downed US drone in Iran, used by drug traffickers on border drones, multiple strange incidents near Russian VIPs, a drone that wandered into Iranian airspace, and "circle spoofing" in China and Iran.
The rest of the world has developed GPS replacement systems that make GPS more of a target, including China's BeiDou, Russia's GLONASS, Europe's Galileo, and UK's OneWeb.
And even the local timing infrastructure is also vulnerable, as demonstrated by an IBM hacker.
Space Symposium, April 4 - 7, Colorado Springs, CO
Pacific PNT, April 11 - 13, virtual
Colorado Photonics Industry Association Expo and Gala, April 14, Broomfield, CO
Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 9 - 12, Denver, CO
IQT San Diego, May 10-12, 2022, San Diego
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
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
Denver Startup Week, September 19-23, Denver, 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...
Have you ever wanted to impress your friends and family with your quantum expertise? First step is to brush up on your quantum mechanics. Some recommendations:
Here’s How You Can Teach Yourself Quantum Physics, by Sunny Labh
Beyond Weird, by Philip Ball
What is Quantum Entanglement? All about this 'spooky' quirk of physics, by John Loeffler
Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum, by Leonard Susskind
The harnessing of quantum properties has led us to a second quantum revolution in three areas: quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum sensing. While quantum computing gets all the press (and investment), quantum communications and sensing have better maturity and near term potential. Some good resources to learn about this are:
Shaping the Long Race in Quantum Communication and Quantum Sensing, McKinsey & Company
Explainer: What is Quantum Communication?, MIT Technology Review