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Curtin research finds combining satellites benefits WA industries

Media release

Curtin University researchers found the recent launch of new Japanese satellites has boosted satellite positioning capabilities in Western Australia, 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 centimetre-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.

Professor Teunissen said the analyses done by Curtin’s Global Navigation Satellite Systems Research Centre demonstrated the highly accurate centimetre-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,” Professor 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.”

Professor 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.

“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 receivers and Curtin’s theory of integer ambiguity resolution, which enables millimetre-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’ can be found online here.