Expected solar flares could threaten GPS reliability

| 4/6/2007

The same Global Positioning System devices that help guide trucks, cars and even planes could temporarily go haywire in a few years, according to a group of scientists.

The director of the National Weather Service and others say a peak in solar flare activity that’s expected in 2011 could disrupt the GPS network for about half the planet, according to The Associated Press.

The scientists cited an unexpected solar burst on Dec. 6, 2006, which affected virtually every GPS receiver on the daylight side of the Earth – causing some to lose accuracy and others to fail completely.

The group says stronger satellite signals could overcome the problem, but that replacing satellites would be very expensive.