Institute of Space Technology, being the pioneer institute in space science, technology and applications reckoned the need of research and qualified human resource in the field of precise positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) and started a specialized Master of Science program in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in spring 2014. The program is structured according to the GNSS curriculum proposed and designed by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the only program of its kind in Pakistan and the 4th across the globe after Italy, China and France. The MS GNSS course work covers eight subjects (24 credit hours) covering specific areas of GNSS (theory, technology and applications) followed by a six credit hours research thesis.
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) include constellations of Earth orbiting satellites in Medium Earth Orbits (MEO), networks of ground control and monitoring stations, and of receivers that calculate ground positions by the basic principle of trilateration. At present GNSS include two fully operational global navigation systems, the Global Positioning System (GPS) by US and the GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS) by Russia. China has recently completed the launch of Beidou system while GALILEO by Europe is in the final phase of completion. In addition to global navigation systems, India has its own Regional Navigation Satellite System named as IRNSS / NavIC and Japan has the 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 global and regional navigation satellite systems, there are also space based augmentation systems namely the Wide-area Augmentation System (WAAS) by US, 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).
GNSS applications offer a cost-effective way of pursuing sustainable growth and provide solution to nearly all the SDGs. The applications and market of GNSS is enormous and employed in all sectors namely space/air/land/marine transportation and management, construction and survey, mining , health, fishing, agriculture, livestock management, space weather monitoring, telecommunications , electric power management, help and rescue, law enforcement, disaster and emergency response, finance and more. Keeping in view the wide application of GNSS, the specific objectives of the graduate program in GNSS are the demonstration and understanding of GNSS constellations, signals, errors, augmentation, sensors integration, receivers and practical applications development.
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 the outer space, and in particular the satellite positioning, navigation and timing (PNT).