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Latest Galileo satellites join constellation with increased accuracy

on 09 September 2022

Europe’s latest Galileo satellites in space have joined the operational constellation, transmitting navigation signals to three billion users across planet Earth as well as relaying distress calls to rescuers. Their entry into service follows a summer test campaign and will result in a measurable increase in positioning accuracy and improved data delivery performance of the overall Galileo system.

Galileo satellites 27-28 were launched at the end of last year and underwent their in-orbit test review at the end of April, held between ESA, satellite manufacturer OHB and navigation payload maker Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). Their key findings included the fact that both satellites’ payloads are performing extremely well – among the best in the entire constellation – and that both satellites entering into service increase the position accuracy and robustness of the overall Galileo system.

A successful system/operations in-orbit test review followed, co-chaired by ESA and EUSPA, the EU Agency for the Space Programme, in overall charge of commissioning, which confirmed the satellites' health.

Now, following a successful test campaign this summer, these two new Galileo satellites have become the first to broadcast an improved navigation message, resulting in three key improvements for Galileo's public Open Service users. These are:

  • Faster navigation data acquisition allowing users to establish a first position fix more rapidly.
  • Better robustness in challenging environments, such as urban centres where the visibility of satellites can be reduced by high buildings.
  • Easier access to timing information in the navigation message for users possessing only a rough estimate of timing of the order of 1-2 seconds.

During the summer, an extensive test campaign was conducted by ESA to ensure the compatibility of the entire Galileo system at unit, payload, satellite, ground, and system levels with the enhanced message. As part of this effort EUSPA oversaw receiver testing, to ensure this compatibility extended to the Galileo receivers and chipsets in the market. These latest launched satellites made ideal test cases for the software and the improved navigation message.

More details here.

Image credit: EUSPA