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Virginia Tech’s Mark Psiaki receives ION’s Kepler Award

Mark Psiaki received the  2021 Johannes Kepler Award. (Photo: ION)

Mark Psiaki received the  2021 Johannes Kepler Award. (Photo: ION)

The Institute of Navigation’s (ION) Satellite Division presented two prestigious awards Sept. 24 at its ION GNSS+ 2021 Conference, which took place in St. Louis, Missouri.

Mark Psiaki received the  Johannes Kepler Award for setting a standard of rigor, clarity and thoroughness in addressing key estimation and signal processing problems in positioning, navigation and timing (PNT).

The Johannes Kepler Award recognizes and honors an individual for sustained and significant contributions to the development of satellite navigation. It is the highest honor bestowed by the ION’s Satellite Division.

Psiaki originated the technique of bit-wise parallel RF signal processing for use in general-purpose processors. This enabler of software-defined GNSS led to the first space deployment of a fully software-defined GNSS receiver on a general-purpose digital signal processor (DSP) and to the widespread adoption of software-defined GNSS across the aerospace industry.

Psiaki’s real-time software radio expertise also enabled the development of a spoofer cultivated in his research group. He led the development of spoofing detection algorithms based on cross-correlation of unknown P(Y) codes and based on direction-of-arrival sensing.

Psiaki was the lead signal processing designer/analyst for the iGPS program that combined Iridium L-band downlink signals, GPS signals and inertial navigation system (INS) data to enhance GPS anti-jam capabilities. Recent work on navigation based on low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites fuses observables from an existing global communications constellation with INS and other sensor data to provide a backup to GPS.

Another contribution demonstrates how Doppler-based navigation could replace pseudorange-based navigation if implemented using a large LEO constellation.

DPsiaki has made many contributions to the practice of modeling, estimation, and detection applied to GNSS, including the study of GNSS carrier phase modeling for space-based applications.  His campaign to decode the GIOVA-A L1 BOC(1,1) PRN codes enabled Galileo receiver manufacturers to test their systems before the ESA published the codes.  His group’s work on ionospheric scintillations led to the first commercially-available scintillation simulators.

Psiaki holds the Kevin T. Crofton Faculty Chair of Aerospace & Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech.  He studied at Princeton University, completing a B.A. in physics in 1979 (magna cum laude) followed by an M.A. (1984) and a Ph.D. (1987) in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

He is a past recipient of the ION’s Burka Award, its Tycho Brahe Award, and the Pride at Boeing Accomplishment Award. He is a Fellow of both the AIAA and the ION.


Lakshay Narula with Brad Parkinson. (Photo: ION)

Lakshay Narula with Brad Parkinson. (Photo: ION)

The Institute of Navigation’s (ION) Satellite Division also presented Lakshay Narula with its Bradford W. Parkinson Award for his thesis, “Towards Secure & Robust PNT for Automated Systems.”

The Bradford W. Parkinson Award is given annually to an outstanding graduate student in the field of GNSS. The award, which honors Parkinson for his leadership in establishing both GPS and the Satellite Division of the ION, includes a personalized plaque and a $2,500 honorarium.

Any ION member who is a graduate student completing a degree program with an emphasis in GNSS technology, applications or policy is eligible for the award.

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