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First Galileo constellation satellites undergo tests of high precision triple-frequency GPS measurements and Safety-of-Life Service signals

by Russel 2012-01-03 12:58



Galileo_safety_of_life European Galileo Safety-of-Life system tested by EurocopterFirst two orbital members of Europe’s Galileo global positioning satellite constellation appear to be functioning as expected during initial In-Orbit Validation phase after their recent launch by Russian rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana last year. Researchers of the European Space Agency ground station in Redu, Belgium, conducting the Galileo satellites support and flight management operations are analyzing the spectrum and quality paremeters of the test signals. Galileo satellites are currently in the midst of a rigorous checks and balances campaign to ensure that their highly sophisticated navigation satellite payloads are operating as planned. The sensitive instrumentation and GPS navigation equipment has been delivered to the orbit safely and were not affected by the strains of launch. Testing is centered on the first Galileo satellite payload for now, and expected to progress to the second satellite as all staged procedures will be completed across the whole range of devices responsible for transmitting all assigned radio spectrum. 

Galileo Safety-of-Life enabled stationThe Galileo satellite constellation global positioning system orbiters offer various groups of GPS signal consumers a total of ten different modulated signals for variety of GPS personal navigators and commercial equipment. These GPS signals are spread across three spectral bands identified by the receiving equipment as E1, E5 and E6. The advanced modulation technology allows incorporation of the Safety-of-Life Service signals, precision timing and robust Open Service  GPS signals for advanced commercial navigation services, such as course compass autopilots and other on the water and on the road GPS navigation systems. Early adopters of Galileo services include Test and Development Environment in Germany which supports the Galileo Safety-of-Life Service, the Galileo Commercial Service and a Galileo Public Regulated Service signals. 

Galileo spectrum signalsAll Galileo GPS navigational and precision timing signals were activated simultaneously across these bands for the first time, during the In-Orbit Validation phase and following the initial preliminary  testing of the E1, E5 and E6 spectrum band platforms. Each spectrum band signals formation amplification and transmittal of the is supported  by independent instrumentation arrays which required staged process of initiation. The switch-on readiness procedure of each spectrum power amplifying and transmitting equipment went through the corresponding stages of warming up to vent potentially harmful vapors and establish the ideal onboard working environmental parameters for power amplifiers and GPS signal transmitters. 

Galileo satellite system architectureThe receiving GPS devices capable of handling the Galileo E1, E5 and E6 spectrum bands work in the same way as new generation of GPS operational receivers will once Galileo satellite constellation begins its initial services in 2014. During currently conducted testing procedures the high precision Galileo GPS signals were received by several geographically distributed test user devices, in the field and at stationary receiver stations, the first one deployed at the Redu ground station in Belgium, as well as by the ESA Navigation Laboratory, equipped with the identical Galileo spectrum receivers, and by the European Space Agency ground station technical center in the Netherlands.

There are several advantages the Galileo satellite constellation will bring to the worldwide GPS operations platform. Galileo spectrum bands E1, E5 and E6 combine multi-frequency signals with the most accurate atomic clocks in the history of orbital space navigation. The new atomic clocks are accurate to one second in three million years. Additionally the new generation of GPS receivers are capable of processing the Open Service, which is the commercial navigation GPS Service and Safety-of-Life Service signals from the Galileo constellation.

By combining the unprecedented accuracy of new atomic clocks with the increased reliability of dual frequency and triple frequency measurements the Galileo GPS signals should open up a large number of internationally available commercial applications. The GPS receivers and quad helix antennas embedded in most advanced GPS navigators for personal use, commercial and government operators feature the multi-GNSS capabilities. The GPS navigator receiver circuitry used in most sophisticated GPS devices can use full variety of Galileo signals to efficiently meet the needs of most demanding GPS applications, such as three dimensional elevated high precision topographic maps

The multi-GNSS systems can also combine the processing of Galileo signals with US GPSS and Russian GLONASS signals to offer uninterrupted positioning information in challenging environments such as city center urban canyons, forests and mountain valleys.

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