ESA's Navigation Facility, located at ESOC, Darmstadt, calculates and predicts highly accurate GPS, Galileo and GLONASS (Russian GPS) satellite orbits, in near-real time, every six hours, around the clock. These data are then used to improve GPS position accuracy, paving the way to even more sophisticated applications and scientific studies, such as large-scale climate monitoring and tracking of long-term changes in Earth’s geology.
The Facility provides products and services in support of ESA missions and to European customers, such as Eumetsat, and to worldwide customers through its participation in the International Global Navigation Satellite Systems (IGNSS) Services group.
The Facility's cornerstone activity has been the computation and prediction of highly accurate orbital position information for the US GPS satellite system, and, now, the European Galileo system. Based on these computed orbits, timing corrections are calculated every 15 minutes for all active satellites in the system network, and for all associated ground receivers.
The accuracy of this data is on the order of 3 cm, corresponding to a timing accuracy of 0.1 nanoseconds. Such enhanced data, which forms the Navigation Facility's core product, is used by a wide range of European and international customers – from national weather offices and satellite operators to universities and geo-science institutes.
Credits: ESA/J. Mai