What is Galileo?
Galileo is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) built by the European Union and the only such system to remain under civilian control. Other comparable global systems are the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS and the Chinese BeiDou, all of which are managed by defence administrations.
Decisions on the implementation and use of the Galileo system are made by the European Union (EU) and its Member States. The most critical services provided by the Galileo system are available to the EU Member States even during crises. Such access cannot be completely guaranteed when using navigation satellite systems under the control of other actors.
A significant share of the services offered by the Galileo system are already available. Galileo’s open services (including open services and search-and-rescue services) are set to become fully available in the Full Operational Capability (FOC) phase, scheduled for launch in 2020. This will be followed by Full Operational Capability for public administration services and other specialised services, currently planned for 2023, with development work on the system set to continue beyond that date.
Most recent devices, including consumer mobile phones and other smart devices, have built-in support for Galileo services. Certain other devices may require software updates to enable Galileo support.
As a global service that is open and free to use for everybody, Galileo offers positioning and timing services comparable to those of GPS. Galileo has been shown capable of providing position measurements within 1-metre precision, including in the Nordic region. It trumps GPS in terms of positioning accuracy (GPS’ accuracy generally varies between two and five metres), and is also capable of producing slightly more precise timing data. The inclination of Galileo satellites’ orbits allows the system to generate better data at Nordic latitudes than does GPS. This advantage is particularly beneficial to Finns, who have access to higher-quality positioning services as a result.
The Galileo satellite constellation and land-based stations
Galileo Space Segment
- Radius of the satellites’ orbit 29,599.8 km
- 24+6 Earth orbit satellites arranged in 3 orbital planes
- 3+1 frequency bands (navigation + SAR)
Galileo Ground Segment
- Control Centres in Germany and Italy
- Security Monitoring Centres in France and Spain
- Worldwide network of Sensor Stations, Uplink Stations as well as Telemetry, Tracking & Control stations
Management of Galileo
- The system is owned by the EU
- The European GNSS Agency (GSA) is responsibility for Galileo’s operational management and maintenance