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Solar Flare Knocks Out Australian Location Tracking Services

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Location based services relying on the Russian satellite navigation system were badly affected by a large solar flare last week.

Russia's Glonass is one of three operational satellite location services in operation, alongside China and the USA's GPS.

However, a large solar flare last week, which Nasa warned could affect satellites predominantly affected just Russia's Glonass network, and the main industry affected by its outage was the Australian mining companies.

The Russian service is preferred in parts of rural Australia over the more reliable GPS as it has a much wider coverage in that part of the world.

According to a customer support email from US mining equipment Caterpillar, its MineStar positioning and monitoring systems suffered outages last Wednesday after the solar flare hit the atmosphere.

"This caused positioning issues at several MineStar sites across the globe, both manned and autonomous, including Solomon, Jimblebar, Yandi, Daunia, Toquepala, and Osisko," the email said. "Current Glonass status has since improved, as approximately half the 24 satellites are transmitting normally."

Some services were able to rely on GPS backups, but the lack of Glonass satelittes impaired their location tracking capabilities.

On the web: The West Australian

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Tags: glonass  gps  Australia