Precision navigation for everyone
America and Russia have been using satellites for accurate navigation for many years. The US GPS and Russian GLONASS systems track, target, or pinpoint moving objects in the air on land or sea with military precision. But until now, it is the military that has been almost the sole beneficiary of such technology, with civilian use of these systems restricted.
Now, Europe is bringing advanced satellite navigation to the civilian population for the first time with Galileo, a future European global satellite navigation system set to transform our land and sea transport and revolutionise air traffic control world-wide.
The first stepping stone in this ambitious programme is the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) - a joint programme between ESA, Eurocontrol and the European Commission.
The first orbital element built by ESA is the navigation payload onboard Artemis. Positioned over Africa and working alongside Inmarsat-3, AOR-E and IOR telecommunications satellites, Artemis' navigation transponder will broadcast the navigation signals from the EGNOS Master Control Centre (MCC). This data, which carries integrity and differential correction information applicable to the GPS and GLONASS satellites will ultimately allow safety critical users like aircraft, ships or emergency vehicles to rely solely on satellite navigation.
In the future this could mean the redundancy of many terrestrial systems, particularly in the air industry, where management of traffic is operated via separate national control centres. Aeroplanes will be able to take off and land in fog with confidence and ships will be able to manoeuvre in and out of ports without having to contact shore-based services. It will be a common occurrence for trucks, and other land-based transport particularly in remote areas to find their way around via satellite links and even our own cars will be equipped with 'personal' systems to help us plan our routes and get around more easily.
Last update: 21 October 2004