Galileo is the European global satellite-based navigation system
Until now, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) users around the world have had to depend on American GPS or Russian Glonass signals. Galileo gives users a new and reliable alternative, run by civil, not military authorities.
GALILEO keeps people moving © Peter Gutierrez
Satellite positioning is now an essential tool for all forms of transportation; if GNSS signals were switched off tomorrow, truck and taxi drivers, ship and aircraft crews, and millions of average citizens around the world would be lost – literally.
As the use of satellite-based navigation systems continues to expand, the implications of potential signal failure become even greater. Such an event, whether accidental or intentional, would jeopardise financial and communications activities, public utilities, security and humanitarian operations and emergency services.
As far back as the early 1990s, the European Union saw the need for a European-controlled global satellite navigation system. The decision to build one was taken in the spirit of other well-known European endeavours, such as the Ariane launcher and Airbus.
A defining characteristic of Galileo is that, unlike GPS and Glonass, it was conceived and developed and will always remain under civilian control.
While European independence has been a key goal behind the creation of the new system, Galileo is nevertheless 100% interoperable with GPS and Glonass, making it a fully integrated new element in the worldwide global navigation satellite system, a powerful cornerstone that will allow more accurate and more reliable positioning, even in high-rise cities where buildings can obscure signals.
By placing satellites in orbits at a greater inclination to the equatorial plane, Galileo also achieves better coverage at high latitudes, making it particularly valuable to users in northern Europe, an area thus far not well covered by GPS alone. In addition, the Galileo signal's enhanced properties make it easier to acquire and track, and more resistant against interference and reflections.
Galileo is creating a range of new business opportunities for equipment manufacturers, application developers and providers of ‘reliability-critical' services.