406 Date: how Galileo helps save lives


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Today is the year 406 Dates, celebrating the life -saving importance of emergency beacons, called for the radio they operate, and satellites emitting their signals – with Europe’s own famous Galileo constellation among them . While Galileo’s main purpose is satellite navigation, the system also collects emergency messages from around the world and delivers them to search and rescue officers.

The electric light

Every time you search beyond the cover of a mobile phone, such as hiking in the wilderness, sailing or flying in the sky, you’re going to a kind of problem, from the ease of communication with local crisis services. That’s why 406 Day encourages you to bring a flashlight as much as possible. Run into the crisis and the beacon sends a 406 Mhz SOS signal to be collected by incoming satellites, which is then sent to the Cospas-Sarsat earth system to deliver to rescuers.

The only system that can independently detect a light anywhere on Earth, Cospas-Sarsat has saved thousands of people since its inception in 1982. Previously, it has hosted its transponders on low Earth orbits and geostationary satellites. led by Galileo joining the system.

Search and rescue via satellite

Because the Galileo satellites have a high orbital altitude, at 23 222 km above while constantly moving in space, they provide panoramic views of the Earth with the ability to quickly detect a distress signal by meeting. time and Doppler tracking.

“Galileo is a major contributor to this satellite navigation system, which has helped search and rescue organizations rescue more than 2,200 people by 2020 alone,” explained ESA Galileo Search and Rescue engineer Eric Bouton.

“Galileo also introduced a new search and rescue operation, the Return Link Service, which notifies beacon users that they have received their SOS message and that help is on the way. In March 2021 the Service arrived at the Full Operational Capability to enter standard use, becoming Galileo’s first service to reach this milestone.

Arctic rescue operation led by emergency beacon

Galileo’s Search and Rescue Service is constantly monitored by the EU Agency for the Space Program, EUSPA, Galileo’s service provider. In December 2021 the service implemented its ‘better location service’ – evaluating the probability of having a problem area at a fault better than 2 km and a half. 10 minutes – a score of 98.12%.

The satellite transponders are connected by three of the bases in the corners of Europe, called Medium-Earth Orbit Local User Terminals (MEOLUTs), located in the Spitsbergen islands of Norway, Cyprus and the archipelago. Canary of Spain and set up from a power station in Toulouse, France, and a fourth site on the French island of La Reunion to prepare, for the cover of the Indian Ocean.

Galileo seeks and rescues

“Last October EUSPA led a search and rescue operation on the edge of the European continent, in ice waters from Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic,” Eric said. “Hundreds of people were rescued from a ship by Norwegian authorities. By raising the beacon, it only took Galileo 2 minutes 20 seconds to search for the ship to 730 m. , leading helicopters and a beach patrol boat to begin evacuation drills.

Galileo’s Search and Rescue service is operated by EUSPA, while ESA is responsible for its future planning, development and growth.

Satellite Galileo

No Galileo

Galileo is the world’s most accurate satellite navigation system today, serving more than two billion users around the world.

The Full Operational Capability of the Galileo project is managed and supported by the European Union. The European Commission, ESA and EUSPA (the EU Agency for the Space Program) have signed an agreement for ESA to act as the design and development authority on behalf of the Commission and EUPA as a user and administrator of Galileo / EGNOS. “Galileo” is registered as a trademark in the archives of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (n ° 002742237).

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