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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Galileo crushes American GPS, Europe can be proud

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Galileo, the European navigation system, does not have to blush in front of its American competitor, the GPS. And it has even just benefited from a major update that will allow users to have greater precision on geolocation. In a press release published this week, the European Space Agency announces the addition of a “High Accuracy Service” or high precision service which allows Galileo to have an accuracy of up to 20 centimeters horizontally and 40 centimeters vertically.

Unfortunately, according to the agency, the new correction signal, which allows this improvement in the precision of Galileo, is integrated into the E6 band of the system. This band is typically not supported by smartphones or consumer electronic devices. For those with high-end equipment that supports this band, the new service is already available.

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The European Space Agency indicates that it nevertheless hopes that this new service will be adopted more widely by connected devices. Indeed, the “message” is already accessible on the internet. In any case, the agency is very proud of this feat. And in its announcement, it recalls that with its 28 satellites, Galileo is already the most accurate satellite navigation service in the world.

“With this new high-precision service, Galileo becomes the first constellation capable of providing a high-precision service on a global scale and directly via the signal in space and via the Internet”comments Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme. “This new feature for Galileo drives innovation in many downstream sectors.” Many sectors could benefit from this gain in precision from Galileo, to name only agriculture, prospecting for natural resources, robotics, or even autonomous cars.

A necessary “correction”

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To locate our electronic devices, Galileo satellites send signals. The distances between these satellites and the receiver are calculated from the time it takes for these signals to arrive. Then, the exact position is deduced from these distances between the receiver and the satellites. It sounds simple, but as the European Space Agency explains, the system must take into account other parameters.

“[…] in practice, the orbits of the satellites themselves and the on-board atomic clocks that keep signals time are susceptible to drift. And signals can experience varying levels of slight delay due to interference from the “ionosphere” – an electrically active segment of the Earth’s atmosphere”we read in the post of this one.

In order to correct these errors, Galileo uses ground stations that collect data. This data is compiled in order to produce the corrections necessary for positioning accuracy. And “High Accuracy Service” is achieved through additional corrections generated at the control center in Fucino, Italy.

And to obtain the precision of 20 centimeters, the current service brings a new correction in relation to the orbit of the satellites, the clock errors, as well as the biases specific to each satellite. But Galileo is already planning a second step which will consist of making new ionospheric corrections.

Source: Presse-Citron

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