Galileo is Europe’s own Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.
On 21 October 2011 the first two of four operational satellites were launched to validate the system. The next two followed on 12 October 2012, making it "possible to test Galileo end-to-end". Once this In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase has been completed, additional satellites will be launched to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) around mid-decade. The first determination of a position relying on signals emitted only from Galileo satellites was achieved on 12 March 2013.
New Galileo satellite launches are on the agenda after a decision from the College of Commissioners announced by European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska. The first launch of two satellites was succesfully executed at the end of March from the European Space Port of Kourou in French Guyana. The Commission’s goal is to launch four more satellites in 2015.
Overall, the Commission aims to have early Galileo services available by 2016 at the latest and full services available by 2020.
Liftoff of Soyuz flight VS01 carrying the first two Galileo IOV satellites (Credit: ESA - S.Corvaja 2011)
The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is the first pan-European satellite navigation system. It augments the US GPS satellite navigation system and makes it suitable for safety critical applications such as flying aircraft or navigating ships through narrow channels.
Consisting of three geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations, EGNOS achieves its aim by transmitting a signal containing information on the reliability and accuracy of the positioning signals sent out by GPS. It allows users in Europe and beyond to determine their position to within 1.5 metres.
Known as a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), EGNOS provides both correction and integrity information about the GPS system, delivering opportunities for Europeans to use the more accurate positioning data for improving existing services or developing a wide range of new services.
As a satellite navigation augmentation system, EGNOS improves the accuracy of GPS by providing a positioning accuracy to within three metres. By comparison, someone using a GPS receiver without EGNOS can only be sure of their position to within 17 metres.
EGNOS also provides verification of the system’s integrity, which relates to the trust that can be placed in the correctness of the location information supplied by the navigation system. In addition, it provides timely warnings when the system or its data should not be used for navigation. Integrity is a feature which meets the demands of safety-critical applications in sectors such as aviation and maritime, where lives might be endangered if the location signals are incorrect.
EGNOS’ infrastructure consists of three geostationary satellites over Europe and a network of ground stations. Since it is based on GPS, the EGNOS signal does not require major changes to receivers. Today, many GPS receivers available on the market are also EGNOS enabled.
The development of EGNOS arose from a tripartite agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission (EC) and Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. It is the precursor to Galileo, the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) being developed by the European Union. EGNOS and Galileo are now part of Europe’s GNSS programmes managed by the European Commission.
EGNOS will offer three services. These are:
GNSS.asia is funded by the European Union within Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, under grant agreement no 641615.