The Masters of Science in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (MS GNSS) at Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad is a specialized Master Program structured according to the GNSS curriculum proposed and designed by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and offered for the very first time in Pakistan. The MS GNSS course work consists of eight three credit hours subjects covering specific areas of GNSS (theory, technology and applications) followed by a six credit hours Thesis.
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) include constellations of Earth-orbiting satellites that broadcast their locations in space and time, of networks of ground control stations, and of receivers that calculate ground positions by trilateration. GNSS are used in all forms of transportation: space stations, aviation, maritime, rail, road and mass transit. Positioning, navigation and timing play a critical role in telecommunications, land surveying, law enforcement, emergency response, precision agriculture, mining, finance, scientific research and so on. They are used to control computer networks, air traffic, power grids and more. Thus the specific objectives of the implementation of the MS GNSS degree program are the demonstration and understanding of GNSS signals, codes, biases and practical applications, and the implications of prospective modernization.
At present GNSS include two fully operational global systems, the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Federation’s GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS), as well as the developing global and regional systems, namely Europe’s European Satellite Navigation System (GALILEO) and China’s COMPASS/BeiDou, India’s Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) and Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS). Once all these global and regional systems become fully operational, the user will have access to positioning, navigation and timing signals from more than 100 satellites.
In addition to these, there are satellite-based augmentation systems, such as the United States’ Wide-area Augmentation System (WAAS), the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), the Russian System of Differential Correction and Monitoring (SDCM), the Indian GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) and Japanese Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) Satellite-based Augmentation Systems (MSAS). Combining them with proven terrestrial technologies such as inertial navigation, will open the door to new applications for socio-economic benefits. The latter are applications that require not just accuracy, but in particular reliability or integrity. Safety-critical transportation applications, such as the landing of civilian aircraft, have stringent accuracy and integrity requirements.
For developing countries, GNSS applications offer a cost-effective way of pursuing sustainable economic growth while protecting the environment. Satellite navigation and positioning data are now used in a wide range of areas that include mapping and surveying, monitoring of the environment, precision agriculture and natural resources management, disaster warning and emergency response, aviation, maritime and land transportation and research areas such as climate change and ionospheric studies.
In conclusion, as we move forward in the 21st century, governments and business in developing and industrialized countries are exploring potential growth areas for their national economies. Almost without exception, the most promising option seems to be outer space, and in particular satellite positioning, navigation and timing, and its potential and future almost universal applications.