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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 15, July 9, 1968

Full report on Omega Teach-In

Full report on Omega Teach-In

Contrary to press reports, Omega would allow vessels with sophisticated equipment to fix their positions within 200 yards, said Mr R. Offen, lecturer in physics at Otago University.

He was speaking at Victoria's Teach-in last Sunday.

The Teach-in was officially organised by the Students Association to help inform students and the public about the Omega navigational system and its political implications.

Recent figures from the United States Naval Observatory showed the system could result in an accuracy of less than one microsecond—perhaps even one-half microsecond under good propagation conditions — said Mr Offen.

This was far greater than previously suggested by the government. 'I believe the US Naval Observatory to be a very good authority— on technical mailers'. he said.

Mr Offen said New Zealand would be a good position for an Omega station; when eight stations were in operation the system would be useful everywhere except near the poles where its accuracy would be somewhat reduced.

It would be particularly resistant to abnormal sunspot activity.

"If the Omega system is to be used only by surface receivers, 1 kilowatt would be ample power," said Mr F. McNeil, of the Physics and Engineering Laboratory, D.S. I.R., and Associate of the Institute of Physics. "But the proposed stations have 10 kilowatt power, which suggests they are to be used by more than surface receivers.

He was the second speaker at the Teach-In.

"Submarines on the surface operate the same as any other surface vehicle. When they are submerged they lose contact with all signals except those on Very Low Frequency. Even when submerged to 50 feel they can use Omega, and if they come to rest at 1,000 feet they can use Omega by releasing a buoyant platform."

"Submarines in general use an intertial guidance system, but this system has one inherent fault. The receivers need updating every so often.

If the submarine is on the surface, this can best be done with use of satellites. In the absence of this, presumably it is done by Omega."

On the question of whether an Omega station has to be sited in New Zealand, Mr McNeil said, "For purely technical reasons New Zealand seems the most suitable place for the South Pacific station. But it could be placed somewhere else.

"And—for entirely non-political reasons — I think it should be."

Mr McNeil said the Omega system had great advantages for navigation round the Antarctic Continent, where it is the only system which can provide reliable information.

"The Omega navigation system sas as one of its chief merits to a navigator its high degree of redundancy," he said.

"The system provides so much data, it is available to all kinds of receiving systems. which can all use it with great benefit. But it is not available to satellite systems," he said.

In answer to a question on the possible elimination of an Omega station in time of war, Mr McNeil said when necessary the system could be adapted to the use of only one group of people, but that it was also quite easy for someone to jam it so that it was of no use to anyone. He later added that rather than jamming the whole system, one station alone could be jammed.

Replying to another question, Mr McNeil told the audience, "The know-how is available in New Zealand to run the system."

There was a crying need for an accurate, dependable. international navigation system, said the third speaker at the Teach-In, Mr J. W. N. Simpson.

Mr Simpson is Superintending Engineer, Navigational Aids, in the Department of Civil Aviation.

While he had little information at present he thought Omega might when developed have enormous potential for civil aircraft.

Mr Simpson devoted most of his speech to the history of the development of modern guidance system. He said civil inertial guidance systems were now 'extremely good". But they still had the disadvantage of needing frequent "updating". He didn't know how much better classified military systems might be.

Ray Offen of Otago.

Ray Offen of Otago.