India’s own GPS system called NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is set to become a reality after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signs an MoU with CSIR National Physical Laboratory (NPL) today to make it independent from the US clock system. The move will help advance the desi global positioning system to become formally operational.
Following the MoU, the desi GPS will formally get synchronized with the Indian Standard Time (IST) maintained by Delhi-based NPL. The time syncronization is crucial for a number of purposes including financial transactions, stock handling, digital archiving, time stamping, national security and prevention of cyber crimes.
A report on Economic Times quotes NPL director Dinesh Aswal as saying,”We can’t depend for ever on the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). After signing the MoU, the space clocks will be synchronised to that of the Primary National Atomic Clocks at National Physical Laboratory and therefore will have independence.” ALSO READ: GPS devices switch off part of the brain: Study
While India can source the IST from the US-based NIST but the time accuracy may vary and hence, NPL is best suited for the task. The laboratory maintains accuracy of ±20 nanoseconds, ensuring utmost accuracy which is essential for satellite navigation system. For day-to-day activities, the millisecond or microsecond accuracy is sufficient, however, as Aswal points, ISRO will need to bring the accuracy up to nanoseconds level for navigation, surveillance and other national missions.
NavIC, which stands for ‘sailor’ or ‘navigator’ in Hindi, will comprise a constellation of seven satellites which will provide Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services in India and the adjoining region up to 1,500 km. The desi GPS will provide two types of services – Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS). ALSO READ: ISRO announces 2 moon missions for early 2018
Although the MoU will mark the first step towards the commercialization of the service, minister of state for space and atomic energy Jitendra Singh suggests the NavIC may take couple of years to become fully operational in the market. Until then, we will have to rely on the American GPS that dominates navigation system market across the world.