Rerouting? Your GPS may get lost during the eclipse

A Virginia Tech professor is conducting an experiment during the Aug. 21 eclipse, measuring its effects on everyday technology. (AP Photo/Eric Adams)
A Virginia Tech professor is conducting an experiment during the Aug. 21 eclipse, measuring its effects on everyday technology. (AP Photo/Eric Adams)

FILE - In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse is seen as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains from downtown Denver. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE – In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse is seen as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains from downtown Denver. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Cardboard frames for solar eclipse glasses are stacked in the American Paper Optics factory in Bartlett, Tenn., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The company is one of many businesses _ hotels, campgrounds and stores _ taking advantage of the total solar eclipse _ when the moon passes between Earth and the sun. The moon's shadow will fall in a diagonal ribbon across the U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
Cardboard frames for solar eclipse glasses are stacked in the American Paper Optics factory in Bartlett, Tenn., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The company is one of many businesses _ hotels, campgrounds and stores _ taking advantage of the total solar eclipse _ when the moon passes between Earth and the sun. The moon’s shadow will fall in a diagonal ribbon across the U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 file photo, Emmalyn Johnson, 3, tries on her free pair of eclipse glasses at Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain, N.C. Glasses are being given away at the library for free while supplies last ahead of the big event on Aug. 21. (Brittany Randolph/The Star via AP)
FILE – In this Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 file photo, Emmalyn Johnson, 3, tries on her free pair of eclipse glasses at Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain, N.C. Glasses are being given away at the library for free while supplies last ahead of the big event on Aug. 21. (Brittany Randolph/The Star via AP)

FILE - This June 13, 2017 file photo shows an advertisement for camping spaces for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse alongside a busy road in Madras, Ore. The first place to experience total darkness as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth will be in Oregon and Madras, in the central part of the state, is expected to be a prime viewing location. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
FILE – This June 13, 2017 file photo shows an advertisement for camping spaces for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse alongside a busy road in Madras, Ore. The first place to experience total darkness as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth will be in Oregon and Madras, in the central part of the state, is expected to be a prime viewing location. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

FILE - In this June 26, 2017 file photo, Laurel Krokstrom holds a model of the Earth, while Jamalee Clark, right, uses a flashlight to simulate the sun while Laura Peticolas, center, holds the moon and explains how a total solar eclipse occurs, in Gering, Neb. (Irene North/The Star-Herald via AP)
FILE – In this June 26, 2017 file photo, Laurel Krokstrom holds a model of the Earth, while Jamalee Clark, right, uses a flashlight to simulate the sun while Laura Peticolas, center, holds the moon and explains how a total solar eclipse occurs, in Gering, Neb. (Irene North/The Star-Herald via AP)

Annular Solar Eclipse
FILE – In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse produces flare through a lens in Alameda, Calif. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality.

Monument Valley
FILE – In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the new moon crosses in front of the sun creating an annular eclipse over West Mitten, left, and East Mitten buttes in Monument Valley, Ariz. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality.

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A Virginia Tech professor is conducting an experiment during the Aug. 21 eclipse, measuring its effects on everyday technology. (AP Photo/Eric Adams)
FILE - In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse is seen as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains from downtown Denver. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Cardboard frames for solar eclipse glasses are stacked in the American Paper Optics factory in Bartlett, Tenn., on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The company is one of many businesses _ hotels, campgrounds and stores _ taking advantage of the total solar eclipse _ when the moon passes between Earth and the sun. The moon's shadow will fall in a diagonal ribbon across the U.S., from Oregon to South Carolina. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 file photo, Emmalyn Johnson, 3, tries on her free pair of eclipse glasses at Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain, N.C. Glasses are being given away at the library for free while supplies last ahead of the big event on Aug. 21. (Brittany Randolph/The Star via AP)
FILE - This June 13, 2017 file photo shows an advertisement for camping spaces for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse alongside a busy road in Madras, Ore. The first place to experience total darkness as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth will be in Oregon and Madras, in the central part of the state, is expected to be a prime viewing location. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
FILE - In this June 26, 2017 file photo, Laurel Krokstrom holds a model of the Earth, while Jamalee Clark, right, uses a flashlight to simulate the sun while Laura Peticolas, center, holds the moon and explains how a total solar eclipse occurs, in Gering, Neb. (Irene North/The Star-Herald via AP)
Annular Solar Eclipse
Monument Valley

ARLINGTON, Va. — While you gaze at the sky during the Aug. 21 eclipse, the moon may mess around with your technology.

GPS signals may be affected by the eclipse because they travel through the ionosphere. According to gps.gov, GPS signals are transmitted from satellites 12,500 miles above Earth and travel through the ionosphere, which extends to around 600 miles above Earth.

Virginia Tech professor Greg Earle will conduct an experiment during the eclipse to study its effect on the atmosphere by looking at GPS and radio signals.

“There’s a region that we call the ionosphere where the medium is instead of just normal air like we breathe, you have air that is sort of electrified,” Earle told WTOP.

The experiment will examine whether an eclipse impacts the ways radio signals behave. The professor said people can expect some GPS issues.

“Now, they won’t be affected in any catastrophic way. It’s not that you are going to be driving off the road or driving off the cliff or anything like that,” Earle said.

However, the system may have a difficult time trying to tell you where you are.

Amateur radio operators or people who use AM radio may also notice some changes in their signal.

Typically, these signals bounce around the atmosphere, reflecting off the ionosphere. This is often why an AM radio station can be heard a greater distance away from a transmitter than an FM station.

But the ionosphere is expected to alter during the eclipse. That’s what Earle is looking to measure: How much does an eclipse affect the ionosphere?

To test that, he has recruited many amateur radio operators to report what contacts they are able to make during the eclipse.

That information will go into a database, giving scientists a better understanding of this solar event’s impact on technology.

Earle is not the only scientist curious about potential effects of the eclipse. Numerous experiments will be conducted during the eclipse using aircraft and balloons.

WTOP’s Greg Redfern contributed to this report.


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