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A step forward in European satellite navigation systems

EGNOS - the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System - and Europe's contribution to the development of a Global Positioning and Navigation satellite system (GNSS) is now becoming a reality as a test bed, according to reports from the European Space Agency (ESA).

The E...
EGNOS - the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System - and Europe's contribution to the development of a Global Positioning and Navigation satellite system (GNSS) is now becoming a reality as a test bed, according to reports from the European Space Agency (ESA).

The European Commission and the European organisation for safety of air navigation (Eurocontrol) are collaborating with ESA on the first phase of the GNSS programme to develop EGNOS.

This is aimed to augment the performance of signals received by the existing American GPS and Russian Glonass systems in terms of precision and data integrity, reports ESA.

A simplified version of the fully fledged system has now been prepared based on the use of ground infrastructure and three geostationary satellites (the Inmarsat 3, Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Atlantic Ocean Region East (IOR-E) and in future, ESA's Artemis telecommunications satellite). These are equipped with dedicated navigation transponders to augment the positioning services currently offered by GPS and Glonass.

The EGNOS ground infrastructure will be deployed over more than 40 sites - mostly in Europe - and the systems should be qualified by the end of 2003, says ESA. This will provide Europe with an operational satellite navigation service which will be further improved with the operational introduction of the Galileo system, which is scheduled for 2008.

The test-bed system has enabled an 'EGNOS-like signal' to be transmitted from space since the middle of February, providing users with a GPS augmentation signal and allowing them to compute their positions to an accuracy of a few metres.

'This pre-operational version of EGNOS will allow Europe to support demonstration of the operational benefits of GNSS to user communities. The test bed will be used for all modes of transport air, land and maritime that require positioning services to accuracies of a few metres, and more particularly safety-critical services', says ESA.

EGNOS should be fully interoperable with similar systems, such as the USA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and Japan's MTSAT Satellite based Augmentation System (MSAS).
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