Fearing a possible GPS outage, the U.S. Navy resumes teaching celestial navigation

US Navy officers train celestial navigation avoid GPS
Amanda Gray/US Navy
Stargazing hasn’t been a popular method of navigation for decades now, but the US Navy is about to change that with a surprising update to its curriculum. With an eye towards security and decreasing reliance on GPS technology, Navy officers are now being trained in celestial navigation. That way, even if the military’s GPS satellites are knocked out of commission in any way, Navy officers will still be able to navigate across the seas accurately.

Until about the 1970s, celestial navigation was still one of the main methods of course charting and location tracking for Navy officers. The US military began launching GPS satellites into orbit in the 70s, and the Navy made an official transition from celestial navigation to electronic systems in the year 2000. Now, the Navy’s version of Google Maps is the Voyage Management System. It uses a number of tools including GPS and radar technology to accomplish complex navigation and ship charting in the ocean.

But GPS technology, for all its benefits and goofy in-car navigation commercials, is also extremely vulnerable. In a situation of war, the United States’ GPS satellites could theoretically be shot down or knocked out of orbit. More likely, the military’s GPS signal could be hacked and manipulated, or even jammed completely. The vulnerability of GPS has caused concern for military groups that rely heavily on its accessibility: “We use it to synchronize all military operations, we use it to navigate everywhere – it’s just something the US military can’t live without”, said former Air Force officer Brian Weeden.

Weeden now works with the Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to security issues that occur in our outer space activities. According to him, Russian and Chinese developers likely already have the capability to jam the specific GPS signal used by the US military. And even without foul play, anyone with a GPS navigation in their car or on their smart phone can tell you that devices act up, and accidents happen. At least once in the last 10 years, a Navy ship ran aground in part due to GPS issues. The Navy hopes that the curriculum change will encourage a deeper understanding of celestial navigation so that if anything should go wrong with GPS technology, officers will still be able to stay safe and carry out missions.

Product Review

Garmin’s 4G LTE VivoActive 3 keeps you safe when you’re out on the trails

Garmin takes its already great VivoActive 3 Music fitness smartwatch and adds a 4G LTE connection, courtesy of Verizon. The watch now has streaming music, independent GPS, and best of all, SMS support and various safety features. We’ve…
Mobile

Having trouble logging in? Here’s how to reset your Apple ID password

To use any of Apple's services, you need to have an Apple ID and know your password. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with forgotten passwords and regain access to your account. Here's how to reset your Apple ID password.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.