• The Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) is a Japanese satellite navigation program. Government of Japan
    The Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) is a Japanese satellite navigation program. Government of Japan

Curtin University researchers have found that the recent launch of new Japanese satellites has boosted satellite positioning capabilities in Western Australia, offering huge potential benefits across numerous industries including mining, surveying and navigation.

New research, published in the journal GPS Solutions, found signals from the recently launched Japanese QZSS satellites provide centimetre-level positioning accuracy, significantly enhancing positioning capabilities in WA and improving accuracy, reliability and availability.

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

Lead researcher Professor Peter Teunissen, of Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said these results will improve further when the QZSS signals are combined with those from other satellite systems such as the Indian NavIC system.

Professor Teunissen also said the analyses done by Curtin’s Global Navigation Satellite Systems Research Centre demonstrated the highly accurate centimetre-level positioning capabilities that can now be achieved.

“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,” Professor Teunissen added.

“The benefits are not only restricted to positioning, but cover the whole range of satellite signal applications, including atmospheric sensing (ionosphere and troposphere) as used for climate change and space weather studies, and numerical weather prediction.

“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.

“The US, 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.

“The tracking and analyses were done using Javad receivers and Curtin’s theory of integer ambiguity resolution, which enables millimetre-level satellite ranging, and was achieved with the use of only the four currently available QZSS satellites.”

The results bode well for the future; the Japanese system is being further developed from the current four-satellite system into a mature seven-satellite system that is expected to be operational by 2020.

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