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Ricarda Erhart (5D) hat den Aufsatzwettbewerb für die Teilnahme am International Space Camp in den USA gewonnen!

"Which benefits do you expect to personally draw from galileo"

by Ricarda Erhart
Bundesgymnasium und Bundesrealgymnasium Wien 23
Vienna Bilingual Schooling

The first time I read about Galileo I was surprised. I already had a lot of knowledge about the established GPS and was an active user of some GPS devices as well. I just could not figure out the differences between GPS and Galileo. There were so many things which were quite similar. So I had to go deeper to find out why Europe is going to build up its own satellite navigation system. Is it more than just a NAVSTAR-GPS copy?

Why am I as a 15 year old girl a user of GPS devices? Well, that did not come from me alone. My father who is some kind of techie in private and business introduced me into the features and functions of his newest devices, when I was very young. So I had access to newest technology in times when it was still something special.

So I started to discover the benefits of Galileo to find out if it is any worth to support it or even to use the new system one day. The first well promoted advantage I found was the advanced accuracy of Galileo. How can Galileo be more accurate than todays systems? The current accuracy of NAVSTAR-GPS with disabled selective availability (SA) is about +/- 15 meters. Thats the native accuracy provided by the system depending on the number of satellites available for operation. There are some add-on systems which provide additional accuracy using communication infrastructure on top of GPS. Differential-GPS (DGPS) brings us up to +/- 5 meters and WAAS/EGNOS up to 3 meters. This is usually increased by the software of the receiver devices. So the need for more accuracy is obvious due to the introduction of the mentioned add-on systems. Galileo can beat this by providing a higher native accuracy to the end user of the system.

One of the major differences concerning innovations is the more service oriented architecture of Galileo. NAVSTAR-GPS offers only services for positioning and time information. This is offered maybe in different qualities (SA) and maybe there are some more services no one else knows instead of the systems owner. The service architecture of Galileo is conceptional different. The classification into

  • Open Services
  • Commercial Services
  • Safety of Life Service
  • Public Regulated Services
  • Search and Rescue Services

represents a fine graded model to offer different levels of security, reliability, accuracy, interference resistancy measurable by guaranteed service levels. NAVSTAR-GPS has nothing comparable able to that.

Moreover the control system of Galileo will be able to detect grave mistakes at the navigation information from the satellites. Incorrect informationes from todays NAVSTAR-GPS satellites are not recognized by the receiver. Position determination in the Galileo system can be more precise because they are filtering these disturbing informations out.

Beside all the differences in the technic and the business there is of course the political need to get more independence from NAVSTAR-GPS. That seams to be an over-kill at first glance, but considering the integration of the services into the economic and legal life within the EU offers powerful opportunities. Only a system, operated by the EU having certain service levels allows the realization of services related to encryption, measurement and information processing which are legally accepted throughout the European Union.

Galileo offers benefits to individuals and me personal as well. There will be two useable navigation systems after Galileo joins in. So everyone can choose. Furthermore NAVSTARGPS and Galileo will be competitors. As we all know this is going to lower prices, to make more people to using the systems. No single company or organization can control prizes or availabilities of components any more. That is a clear advantage to the costumers.

Another section in Europe which will benefit from Galileo is the public transport system. Nowadays there is only the technology to say when e.g. a train passes a special check point. By using Galileo it is also possible to build new systems which are able to determine the train number, location, speed and heading. So Europes public transport system will also get more precise.

Austria is a small country with limited resources but never the less able to develop state of the art technology, also for the Galileo project. Therefore one of the fundamental parts of the first Galileo test satellite, the digital signal generator, comes from Austria. Its constructed by Austrian Aerospace.

Now whats the final answer to my opening question? Is it really more than just a NAVSTAR-GPS copy? Yes, for sure. There are fundamental advantages over NAVSTART-GPS in terms of reliability, security and levels of services that there is a good reason having this system and bring advantages to all people.

Europe is not going to fly to the moon in the near future but it will have its own satellite navigation system offering services to the people all over the world.

Links

ESA Navigation: www.esa.int/esaNA/index.html
ESA-Deutschland: www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM0198A9HE_Germany_0.html
Galileo: europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/energy_transport/galileo/index_en.htm
Galileo Contact Point Austria: www.ffg.at/index.php
Galileo Austria: www.galileo-austria.at
Wikipedia: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System
Coorditional Scientific Information Center: www.glonass-ianc.rsa.ru