Japanese satellites to assist positioning at WA mines

CUCC and UWA stations in Perth. Source: Google Earth 2018

New satellites from the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) project have been found to boost positioning capabilities in Western Australia, according to research from Curtin University.

The research published in the quarterly science journal GPS Solutions has found that the Japanese Government-developed satellites offer centimetre-level positioning accuracy that could provide potential benefits for mining and other industries.

Peter Teunissen, Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences lead researcher, said, “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.”

The boosted capacities extend to a whole range of satellite signal applications including atmospheric sensing — used in climate change and space weather studies — and numerical weather prediction.

Teunissen said that WA is in the fortunate and unique geographical position of being located beneath the flight paths of both the Japanese QZSS and Indian NavIC regional satellite systems.

When the QZSS signals are combined with those from other satellite systems such as NavIC, positioning results can improve further.

“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,” explained Tuenissen.

“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.”

Launched in October last year, QZSS is being further developed from the current four-satellite system into a mature seven-satellite system. It is expected to be operational by 2020.

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