Researchers working independent from SpaceX and without any of the company’s proprietary data, have found a way to turn the Starlink internet constellation — now about 3,000 satellites strong — into a method of pinpointing one’s location, thus making it an alternative to GPS-type satellites.
To be clear, no one is accessing Starlink user data here. The sync sequences are just strings of timings and other data that the machines use to stay in touch — the payload data is entirely separate.
In the paper, due to the fact that the signal was being targeted at an actual Starlink user terminal, the location had to be for that terminal too, and they were able to get it within 30 meters. Not better than GPS, obviously, but it could be quicker and eventually more accurate if SpaceX were to give the project its blessing.
A software update that slightly adjusts how the satellites send their signals and a bit of data on correcting for variance between their clocks, and Humphreys suggests Starlink transmissions could be used to locate oneself to within a meter.
You can read the paper here [pdf].
It seems a no-brainer that at some point SpaceX management will recognize the money they can make from this extra capability, and will figure out the best way to produce and sell handheld units. It also appears that there will be profit in allowing others to also tag on.
On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon
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The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News