Title: SAR/Galileo Initial Service: A European Contribution to International Search and Rescue Efforts
Author(s): Xavier Maufroid, Eric Chatre, Igor Stojkovic, Chiara Scaleggi
Published in: Proceedings of the 30th International Technical Meeting of The Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2017)
September 25 - 29, 2017
Oregon Convention Center
Portland, Oregon
Pages: 1450 - 1465
Cite this article: Maufroid, Xavier, Chatre, Eric, Stojkovic, Igor, Scaleggi, Chiara, "SAR/Galileo Initial Service: A European Contribution to International Search and Rescue Efforts," Proceedings of the 30th International Technical Meeting of The Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2017), Portland, Oregon, September 2017, pp. 1450-1465.
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Abstract: The International Cospas-Sarsat system is a satellite based Search and Rescue distress alert detection and information distribution system which was established in 1988 by Canada, France, the USA and the former USSR (replaced by The Russian Federation in 1992). The system allows the detection and localization of distress beacons transmitting signals in the protected 406MHz band. The Cospas-Sarsat was initially established with LEO satellites where distress localization is based on Doppler measurements. This LEOSAR system has provided significant contributions to the SAR efforts for the last 35 years. In 2000 the USA, the European Union in association with the European Space Agency and Russia began consultations with Cospas-Sarsat regarding the feasibility of installing Search and Rescue (SAR) payloads on their respective Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) navigation satellite systems and incorporating a 406 MHz MEOSAR capability in Cospas-Sarsat. The MEOSAR Programs are called SAR-GPS for the USA, SAR/GLONASS for Russia and SAR/Galileo for Europe. In December 2016, Cospas-Sarsat MEOSAR Early Operational Capability (EOC) operations were started; concurrently with the start of SAR/Galileo Initial Service as a contribution to MEOSAR EOC. The SAR/Galileo Initial Service ensures the worldwide detection and localization of the beacon distress signals by relaying these distress signals through SAR repeaters on board the Galileo satellites. In total, the SAR/Galileo Initial Service currently operates 16 SAR repeaters in L-Band. In addition the SAR/Galileo Initial Service contributes to the ground segment coverage with 3 MEOLUTs (Medium altitude Earth Orbit Local User Terminal) stations deployed in Spain, Norway and Cyprus. These MEOLUTs are in charge of detecting and computing the distress beacons location based on the measurements done on the signals relayed by several SAR repeaters in visibility of the station. The management of the system operations and service provision is carried from the SAR/Galileo Service Centre located in Toulouse in the premises of the French National Space Agency (CNES). SAR/Galileo offers much reduced latencies for the detection and localization of distresses compared to LEOSAR which is critical for rescue operations. Furthermore, the coordination of the three SAR/Galileo MEOLUTs from the SAR/Galileo Service Centre leads to outstanding detection and localization performances over the European Coverage area. In this paper, the authors present an overview of the SAR/Galileo Service, its architecture, operations and current performances. In addition, insight on the service evolution is also provided.