National and international resillience to the failure of space infrastructures
Space based systems now form a core component for national critical infrastructures.
GPS and GLONAS provide location and timing information for Unmanned Airborne Vehicles, to electricity distribution and road traffic management systems. However, these systems are very vulnerable to physical and cyber attacks as well as to accidental faults. End users are typically unaware of the threats identified to satellite based infrastructures. This creates enormous vulnerabilities.
Together with NASA, the European Space Agency and the United States Air Force Space Command, we have developed tools that help the end users of space based systems to assess the likelihood and consequences of failure to their operations (military or civil). This is a unique initiative and Scotland is ‘world leading’ in this area. For example, we have been working with the safety teams using satellite location and timing information to assist precision approaches to European airports to identify a range of potential vulnerabilities.
Why is this research important?
National critical infrastructures depend on space based systems. The European Commission recently certified EGNOS extensions to GPS for Safety of Life services. For example, EGNOS can increase the capacity of rail networks by using the exact location of trains to control signals rather than closing off large sections of track every time a train passes. The consequences of failure in this and the aviation examples, cited above, are obvious.