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Stupid People
by James Dunnigan
July 16, 2014

On June 1st Russia ordered data feeds from eleven scientific research stations inside Russia turned off. These monitoring stations collect and distribute to everyone seismic and other data for geodesy, geodynamics, orbital mechanics, and atmospheric research. The sites use GPS as part of their data collection but do not, as the Russian announcement said, have anything to do with the operation of the U.S. GPS system. The eleven sites are part of a global network of 200 stations sponsored by various governments and international organizations.

The eleven stations that had their data feeds blocked were built and maintained with the help of the U.S. government so they were an easy target for Russia after the U.S. refused to allow Russia to build GLONASS (Russian GPS) tracking stations in the U.S. Russia asked to do this in 2012 and American experts in the field saw no problem. After all, by prior agreement the U.S. had Differential GPS ground stations in Russia. These were not shut down although these are the stations that improve the accuracy for GPS (still widely used in Russia).

The 2012 problem developed after some politicians, pundits and media in the United States made a big deal out of the possibility of Russia using GLONASS these stations to spy on the United States. Intel and GPS experts pointed out there are easier and better ways to spy on the United States than via these very obvious “Operated By Russia” facilities. Russia was just as silly when they shut down the eleven research stations, saying they were doing it to deny the United States access to military grade GPS accuracy in the Russia when in fact these stations had nothing to do with that and the ones that do (Differential GPS ground stations) are still operating in Russia.

And people wonder why scientists have such a low opinion of politicians and the media. In any event Russia turned the data feed on a few days later and Cuba agreed to host some of the GLONASS stations that were to be located in the U.S. 

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