Oct 8, 2013 ASDNews Source : European Space Agency
ESA’s completion of a pair of dedicated ground stations at opposite ends of Europe has enabled Galileo satellites in orbit to participate in global testing of the Cospas–Sarsat search and rescue system.
The Maspalomas station, at the southern end of the largest island of the Canary Islands, at the southern fringe of European waters, was activated in June. And this last month has seen the Svalbard site on Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic come on line – the two sites can already communicate and will soon be performing joint tests.
This speedy progress has enabled the participation of the latest two Galileo satellites in an international demonstration and evaluation programme – a worldwide test campaign for a new expansion of the world’s oldest and largest satellite-based rescue system, Cospas–Sarsat.
Founded by Canada, France, Russia and the US, Cospas–Sarsat has assisted in the rescue of tens of thousands of souls in its three decades of service. Distress signals from across the globe are detected by satellites, then swiftly relayed to the nearest search and rescue (SAR) authorities.
Now the programme is introducing a new medium-orbit SAR system to improve coverage and response times, with the Galileo satellites in the vanguard of this major expansion.
Supporting search and rescue is a separate function to Galileo’s main task of providing global navigation and timing services, but no less important.