Boffins are warning that the Sun is about to wake up, stretch and bork the world’s GPS networks.
After a period of dozing, the Sun is about to wreak havoc with the weak sat-nav signals. It will be the first time that it has been a problem as the last time the Sun hreached a peak in activity, satellite navigation was barely a consumer product.
Signals from GPS are incredibly weak and sensitive to solar flares.
The radiation or waves that come from the Sun can make sat-nav receivers unable to pick out the weak signal from satellites from the solar flare’s aftermath.
It is starting to look like Sat-nav receivers will be blinded for tens of minutes, probably a few times a year at the solar maximum.
Cathryn Mitchell of the University of Bath warned that as signals come through the ionosphere, they slow down by an amount that is actually quite variable, and that adds an error into the system when you do the calculations for your position.
With solar flares messing things up it could mean that the GPS signals will be inaccurate.
Ionisation will be different whether it is day or night too.