[Answered] Highlight the significance of NavIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation) for India and compare it with the GPS navigation system.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some significance of NavIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation) for India.  Also write its comparison with GPS navigation system.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. It is a regional system and consists of seven satellites.

Significance of NavIC for India:

  • It give real time information for standard positioning service open for civilian use and restricted service for authorised users like for military.
  • It will help in scientific & technological advancement of India.
  • It will make Indian Armed Forces self-reliant.
  • Further with extensive coverage, one of the stated future uses of the project includes sharing the project with the SAARC nations. This will help in integrating the regional navigation system further and a diplomatic goodwill gesture from India towards countries of the region.
  • It is important for the country’s sovereignty and strategic requirements.
  • Relying on systems like GPS and GLONASS may not always be reliable as those are operated by the defence agencies of respective nations and it is possible that civilian services can be degraded or denied.

Comparison with GPS navigation system:

  • Coverage: GPS caters to users across the globe and its satellites circle the earth twice a day, while NavIC covers India and some neighboring countries.
  • Satellites: currently, NavIC has a total of 7 satellites in Earth’s orbit whereas GPS has a total of 31 operational satellitesrotating around the Earth. While GPS needs only 24 satellites to cover all the regions.
  • Frequency: NavIC uses L5 frequency for Standard Positioning Service(SPS) and S band frequency for military use. GPS uses L1 and L5 frequencies for both general and military use.
  • Accuracy: The reason for NaviC’s pinpoint accuracy is the direct line of sight between the satellite and India’s region- all the time. Since NavIC satellites are much above the Earth’s surface (approx 35k km above), signals can’t be blocked by mountains. GPS satellites are operating at medium orbit so there are chances of signal blocking by mountains. NavIC has a position accuracy of 5-20 meters for general users and 0.5 meters for military use. GPS has a similar position accuracy of less than 20 meters.

Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider. It can also play a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004.

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