Boffins ponder Galileo signals as ocean monitors
It will be useful
Private enterprise might not know how to make any money from it, but academics are already thinking of uses for it. Yes, it is the Galileo system, Europe's answer to GPS.
Scientists at the University of Surrey, along with spin-out firm SSTL, have managed to detect the reflection of signals sent down from an orbiting prototype Galileo satellite.
The reflected signal was captured by the University's GPS Reflectometry Experiment. This hitched a lift into space back in 2003, aboard SSTL’s UK-DMC satellite. The aim was to demonstrate the use of GPS reflections to determine the roughness of the ocean, using a method called 'bistatic radar' or 'forward scatterometry'.
The same equipment has now detected a reflection from the prototype Galileo signal. It wasn't a huge amount of data: just 20 seconds' worth collected earlier this month. But the value is in the proof of concept, the scientists say.
"This is an important achievement in remote sensing and demonstrates the potential offered by Galileo for scientific purposes," said Dr Martin Unwin, Head of Global Navigation Satellite Systems at SSTL.
"Signals from Galileo... GPS and the Russian and Chinese systems, Glonass and Compass, can all be used as part of a new tool for ocean sensing. The future high bandwidth signals transmitted by Galileo, in particular, will enable higher resolution measurements of special interest to scientists, for example, in resolving wave heights."
He sad a constellation of small satellites - roughly 10kg each - could easily be launched to listen out for the echoes of publicly funded navigation signals. The size and simplicity of such a listening post means many satellites could be launched at a time, he added.
Data collected by such a system could help fill in gaps in forecast knowledge, giving better warning of storms far out at sea, as well as providing data for climate models. ®
"They would not be able to drive directly to the 15th floor"
Either use ramps, or a private helicopter, hover outside, throw goods through window.
Oops, the GPS didn't tell me it was closed.
All washed up
"you could be remotely alerted if the water level was becoming too high"
Right, but you might have to get out of the bath to answer the phone. And while you are doing that, the bath will overflow unnoticed.
However, theres possibly some merit. To work properly, people would have to move their baths into the front garden for a better view of the satellite signals. Which could be interesting (or not, depending on the person in the bath).
Hopefully it works both ways -- the satellite can zoom in on individual occupied baths, so that even if the people in your own locality aren't too attractive, you can find one somewhere else that is more interesting.
Victims would be able to plot in advance their limit of extemities when delivering sofas in high buildings and could call upon extra help with the load bearing. Think about the vertical aspects of Galileo before rubbishing the potential. Alright, forget about the bath as an example: What about pylon cable collapse or resevoir levels. (I like the parachutist idea-that would be great to know when to pull the 'chute in fog for instance).