Why Is the Navy (We Think) Jamming The West Coast’s GPS This Month?

The FAA has issued a mysterious advisory telling pilots not to trust their GPS for several days this June.

Desert test range

If you live on the West Coast and are planning to visit the mountains on June 21, 23, 28, and/or 30th, you’d probably better get yourself a map, you know, one of those big paper things that fold up, or that come in books people keep in the trunks of their cars. That’s because between 9:30 and 3:30 Pacific time on those days, high-altitude GPS on the West Coast of the U.S. is going to be scrambled. The assumption is that it’s our government doing the scrambling, but they’re not saying. Surprise.


The FAA issued an advisory on June 4 to aircraft about “GPS testing,” saying that GPS would be “unreliable or unavailable” during those times. No warning’s been issued for the rest of us, but the scrambling may reach down as low as 50 feet above the ground.

Included in the advisory is this map that shows the area to be covered by the test: basically from Baja to south of Portland, Oregon, and as far east as the western edge of Colorado.

At the center of the area is the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake in the Mojave Desert. Not very surprisingly, the Navy offered little in the way of additional information when contacted by Gizmodo except to say “It’s general testing for our ranges.” Whatever that means exactly. This is near Area 51.

We are so reliant on our devices these days, the Navy, or whoever, better have a very good reason for doing this to us. It seems reasonable to imagine they’re just checking out some equipment, but why stop there? Maybe they’re seeing what it would take for a super-villain to jam our systems, or…wait…testing some kind of response to secret attacks on our satellites by terrorists, or…(gasp)…aliens? Maybe they’re testing the effects of a Top Secret EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapon to send our adversaries back to the stone age, like on Dark Angel?

Or maybe they’re just they testing their GPS systems. Sometimes reality is such a disappointment.

 

 

Preview image: Amanda Slater

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less

Are we in an AI summer or AI winter?

Neither. We are entering an AI autumn.

Credit: Jesse Chan via Unsplash
13-8
  • The history of AI shows boom periods (AI summers) followed by busts (AI winters).
  • The cyclical nature of AI funding is due to hype and promises not fulfilling expectations.
  • This time, we might enter something resembling an AI autumn rather than an AI winter, but fundamental questions remain if true AI is even possible.
Keep reading Show less

How WallStreetBets “hype” spreads among investors like a virus

A new study explores how investors' behavior is affected by participating in online communities, like Reddit's WallStreetBets.

WallStreetBets reddit page

Rafael Henrique via Adobe Stock
Mind & Brain
  • The study found evidence that "hype" over assets is psychologically contagious among investors in online communities.
  • This hype is self-perpetuating: A small group of investors hypes an asset, bringing in new investors, until growth becomes unsteady and a price crash ensues.
  • The researchers suggested that these new kinds of self-organized, social media-driven investment behaviors are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
Keep reading Show less
Strange Maps

The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

Quantcast