Satellite Navigation


Satellite navigation has definitely become an integral part of our daily lives. Whether for hiking or driving, for topographical surveys or agriculture, for the management of maritime, land or air traffic, the signals emitted by navigation satellites are used whenever there is a need to quickly pinpoint a precise location. At present, these signals come almost exclusively from the American Global Positioning System (GPS). Over the past few years, Europe has been working to develop its own independent satellite navigation infrastructure. The European Space Agency (ESA) plays a central role in the development of the system and technology used. This development is taking place in two main areas:

Test landing at the University Hospital of Lausanne using the EGNOS system
Test landing at the University Hospital of Lausanne using the EGNOS system
© Th. Buchanan, skyguide

The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service EGNOS, which offers regional coverage, complements GPS signals so as to achieve greater precision and reliability. EGNOS signals can be received in Europe and North Africa. After an ESA-sponsored developmental phase, EGNOS was delivered to the EU for the operational phase.

Passive hydrogen maser (PHM)
Passive hydrogen maser (PHM) on board the Galileo satellites. The most precise clocks in use in space.
© SpectraTime

Once Galileo enters the operational phase towards the end of the decade, Europe will have its own global and independent satellite navigation system. ESA is responsible for the technological and conceptual development whereas the EU is responsible for building the constellation of 30 satellites and running the operational phase.
In parallel to the deployment of the EGNOS and Galileo systems, ESA is already conducting research and development for the next generation of these two navigation systems.


SERI, Aurélie Pezous
+41 58 46 53199