How bad are the ankle monitors? The term “ankle bracelets,” used by The New York Times, suggests a delicate piece of jewelry. The GPS device weighs about 2 pounds and must be worn 24 hours a day; it has to be plugged into the wall to charge for about four to six of those hours. Honduran women interviewed for several articles reported symptoms that included swelling and infections of the ankle, severe leg cramps, headaches and dizziness, and skin burns when the device heats up during charging.

Many also reported feeling shamed and humiliated by the devices and said people on the street looked at them as if they had committed terrible crimes. Parents struggled to explain the devices to their children. A Honduran asylum seeker in Boston, quoted in the Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario, said her 8-year-old son was so affected by her suffering that he told her: “Mommy, take that device off and put it on me, so you can rest.”


Delta IV roars into orbit with GPS satellite.

The United Launch Alliance successfully launched the GPS 2F-9 satellite into orbit earlier this afternoon!

As can be seen in the video above, the vehicle lifts off precisely on schedule at 2:36 PM EST from SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

ATK’s twin GEM-60 Solid Rocket Boosters of the Delta IV M+ 4,2  rocket can be seen on either side of the Common Booster Core. The RS-25 engine that powers the Delta Common Booster Core also flew its final mission today. The remaining flights of the Delta IV will see the upgraded RS-25A engine on the CBC.

The launch of GPS 2F-9 was the 371st flight of a Delta rocket since its inaugural flight in 1960. This was also the 29th flight of the Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, and the 22nd under the United Launch Alliance. 

To see our coverage on the GPS 2F-9 mission, click here.

Check out ULA’s Instagram feed here.

A GPS That Asks DNA for Directions

A team of engineers in Singapore has been working for years on a computer that uses DNA instead of silicon to process calculations. They recently reported success in advancing the technology, by unveiling a programmable DNA-based optimal route planning processor that behaves like those in traditional GPS navigation systems. 

The system can tackle two different computing tasks at the same time, calculating the shortest route between two different starting points and two destinations on a map consisting of six paths. It does this by using information stored beforehand in the DNA.

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So do we fry the GPS chip, turn off Location Services, and give up on some of the coolest, most personal tech currently available? Probably not. After all, it never stopped us from buying phones in the first place. And it’s allowing us to develop more intimate relationships with our tech. But just as we’ve learned to be careful about where we store photos, and where we share personal information, we’re going to need to start being more careful about who we trust to follow us wherever we go.