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Home / Blog / HOW SPACE WEATHER REDUCES THE ACCURACY OF YOUR CAR TRACKING DEVICE?

How space weather reduces the accuracy of your car tracking device?

Category:Car tracking device

TrackingAndSafetyMarch 30, 2024

GPS awareness and use have dramatically increased over the decades. The factors that contributed to the rapid adoption of GPS trackers are affordability and availability.

Almost all passenger and even commercial vehicles now come equipped with infotainment systems. These infotainment systems on the other hand are programmed to offer basic or advanced navigation features. Additionally, every smartphone currently available around the world offers GPS features.

Then there are GPS tracking devices meant for private and commercial vehicles. Asset tracking is yet another modern implementation of GPS trackers. Tracking devices are used to keep tabs on equipment, vehicles, etc. used in agriculture, construction, mining, etc.

The increased dependence on GPS devices also comes with a downside. If the GPS goes down for good, the modern way of life will come crashing down.

How will GPS crash?

Well, a massive space weather event can trigger a worldwide crash of the GPS satellite cluster. However, the upside is that space weather events are rare. But when they take place, they leave their negative effects on your car tracking device.

The effects of space weather on your GPS car tracking device

Vehicle trackers are negatively affected whenever there is a mild solar storm. The reason is simple. Since the GPS satellites are way above the Earth’s atmosphere, they are bombarded by the high-energy particles of solar storms.

The high-energy particles penetrate the sensitive electronic components of GPS satellites. Additionally, the high-energy particles tend to burrow within an affected satellite’s insulators. As this keeps on happening, the energy from these particles builds up and then fries the electronic components of the satellite through a massive static discharge.

If the above scenarios are somehow avoided by a GPS satellite, even the best vehicle tracking device can show inaccuracies during bad space weather events.

Why?

Ionospheric disturbances can make a GPS vehicle tracking device go haywire.

What is an ionospheric disturbance?

When a certain portion of the Earth’s ionosphere has a sudden intense increase of ionization, then this phenomenon is known as an ionospheric disturbance. These events are almost recurring since they take place every night in the Earth’s ionosphere.

The regions that experience this event frequently are –

  • Northern part of Australia.
  • South East Asia.
  • Across the African continent.

Are ionospheric disturbances events triggered by sunspots?

No, ionospheric disturbances are not triggered by sunspots. Instead, your favorite GPS tracking device will act out even if solar activity is minimal on a particular day.

Why?

Well, even the best OBD2 GPS tracker will be affected when ionospheric events occur. Ionospheric events are internally driven events. This phenomenon occurs when electrons in the ionosphere rise from low-density plasma to high-density plasma. The process is known in the scientific communities as the Rayleigh-Taylor instability.

What exactly happens to a tracking device during ionospheric disturbances?

Signal breaks are natural outcomes. A GPS car tracking device will not be able to receive signals from GPS satellites. The reason is simple. During an ionospheric disturbance, the ionosphere experiences an unprecedented amount of turbulence. Satellite signals are radio signals. Radio signals get distorted while moving through dense plasma packed with high-energy electrons. The outcome is that your preferred car GPS tracker will suffer GPS signal fluctuations and at times will be completely severed from GPS satellites.

Are there other factors that have direct effects on GPS trackers?

Number of available satellites

GPS trackers find your location or the locations of your assets and vehicles with help from GPS satellites. Even the top-shelf GPS car trackers need signals from at least 4 GPS satellites to triangulate its position. If a tracker is not in the line of sight of at least 4 satellites then the tracking device will show inaccurate results.

The geometrical shape of the satellite constellation above your vehicle

Vehicle tracking devices perform better when the number of available satellites is spread out and not clustered at a certain point in the sky above the device.

What are the effects of environmental factors on your GPS tracker?

A GPS tracker for car also performs poorly when it is in a place packed with skyscrapers. Trackers also tend to lose their connection with GPS satellites while a vehicle is in a valley or the woods.

Why?

Tall buildings, trees, hills, and mountains come in the way of incoming signals originating from GPS satellites.

How?

Well-manmade and natural structures bounce off incoming signals from GPS satellites. As a result, GPS connected car solutions tend to misinterpret the reflected signals.

How?

Well, trackers wrongly identify reflected signals as new signals coming from different satellites. The result is wrong GPS data.

Is your position on the earth’s surface a contributing factor as well?

Yes, it is!

It doesn’t matter if you use a Vyncs GPS tracker or any other tracking device. You should remember that the number of satellites in the sky changes as you move across the Earth’s surface. This means that the overall accuracy of your GPS-based devices will fluctuate as well.

It is a known fact that locations near the equator tend to receive strong signals from GPS satellites.

But why is that!?

Well, locations that are near the equator tend to have a better view of the sky. In simple words, GPS receivers will be getting signals from a large number of GPS satellites. Hence, increased accuracy is a natural outcome.

You can always read a map or ask for directions

Inaccurate GPS tracker data can come in the way of your road trip or fleet management plans. Solar storms and other environmental factors cannot be controlled. Hence, it is best to make a habit of reading an old-fashioned map or simply ask for directions. Don’t you think?

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