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Galileo sat-nav system experiences service outage

A Galilean satellite

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The satellite navigation system of Europe, Galileo, has suffered a great interruption.

The network has been disconnected since Friday due to what has been described as a "technical incident related to its land infrastructure".

The problem means that all receivers, such as the latest smartphone models, will not detect any useful moment or positional information.

These devices will be based, instead, on the data coming from the US global positioning system (GPS).

And depending on the sat-nav chip they have installed, cell phones and other devices can also be connected to the Russian (Glonass) and Chinese (Beidou) networks.

Galileo is still in a pilot or launch phase, which means it is not yet expected to lead critical applications.

The European GNSS Agency (GSA) issued a notice on Thursday warning users that Galileo signals could become unreliable. Then, an update was sent at 01:50, Central European time, on Friday to indicate that the service was out of service until further notice.

The GSA said: "Experts are working to restore the situation as soon as possible, an Abnormality Review Board has been created immediately to analyze the exact root cause and to implement recovery actions."

The satellite navigation specialist Inside GNSS said the sources were telling him that the problem was due to a fault in a precise synchronization facility (PTF) in Italy. A PTF generates and adjusts the reference time with which all Galileo system clocks are verified and calibrated.

The function on the Galileo satellites that collects the distress beacon messages for search and rescue is not affected by the interruption.

What is Galileo?

  • A project of the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
  • 24 satellites are a complete system, but they will also have spare parts in orbit
  • 24 spacecraft are in orbit today; Two more will be launched next year.
  • The original budget was 3 billion euros, but now it will cost more than three times that
  • Works in conjunction with the US GPS systems UU., Chinese Beidou and Russian Glonass.
  • Promises an eventual positioning in real time up to one meter or less

Galileo is a multi-billion euro project of the European Union and the European Space Agency. The EU owns the system and Esa acts as a technical and procurement agent.

There are currently 22 operational satellites in orbit (another two are in space but in test), and another 12 are under construction with the industry. In addition to the spacecraft, Galileo relies on a complex terrestrial infrastructure to control the network and monitor its performance.

The Europe alternative to GPS was "live" with the initial services in December 2016 after 17 years of development. The European Commission promotes Galileo as something more than a support service; It is also touted as more accurate and more robust.

An interruption in the entire network is, therefore, a cause for great concern and not little embarrassment.

Since its launch in 1978, GPS has become an integral part of the functioning of all modern economies.

The use goes beyond finding the way through an unknown city. The system's timing function has now become ubiquitous in many fields, including the synchronization of global financial transactions, telecommunications and power networks.

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