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            GALILEO: European Satellite Navigation System

Galileo will be Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, providing highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. It will be interoperable with GPS and Glonass, the two other global satellite navigation systems.

The 3.6 billion euro Galileo project is expected to start operating in 2008.

Programme phases

The GALILEO programme comprises the following phases.

Definition of the system (finalized)

During the definition phase, the Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) have mobilised a very large part of the European space industry as well as a large number of potential service providers with a view to defining the basic elements of this project.


A number of projects and comprehensive studies have contributed to this phase:

  • GALA for the overall architecture definition
  • GEMINUS to support the GALILEO service definition
  • INTEG for EGNOS (European Geostationary Overlay Service) integration into Galileo
  • SAGA to support the GALILEO Standardisation process
  • GalileoSat for the space segment architecture definition
  • GUST related to GALILEO receivers pre-specification and certification
  • SARGAL related to potential SAR (Search and Rescue) applications of Galileo.

Based on the outcome of the definition Phase, the GALILEO Mission High Level Definition document has been produced and consolidated through a consultation process, involving Members States, users and potential private investors. It presents a picture of the main characteristics and performance of the GALILEO Mission. It will be used as framework for the GALILEO programme and forms the basis for the Mission Requirements Document and the System Requirements Document.

Two major activities have consolidated the definition of the GALILEO system:

  • Phase B2 of the GalileoSat study led by ESA focussed on the consolidation of mission and system requirements, system architecture and finalisation of phase B activities leading to the Preliminary System Design Review (PSDR).
  • The Community-funded GALILEI project defined the overall service and user approach for GALILEO, complementing the studies performed by ESA in the frame of the GALILEO definition phase, in particular on the following topics:
    • architecture of GALILEO Local Components and customisation for some key applications,
    • interoperability between GALILEO and other systems (GNSS, GSM/UMTS, etc.),
    • co-ordination and protection of frequencies used by GALILEO,
    • standardisation and certification aspects,
    • market observatory of applications using GALILEO,
    • definition of the legal, regulatory and institutional framework of GALILEO.

More recources:

GALILEO Introduction: How it works

GALILEO Applications: Transport, Energy, Agricultural&Fisheries, Personal Navigation


Development of the system

The development and validation phase (2002 – 2005) covers the detailed definition and subsequent manufacture of the various system components: satellites, ground components, user receivers.

This validation will require the putting into orbit of prototype satellites from 2005 and the creation of a minimal terrestrial infrastructure. It will allow the necessary adjustments to be made to the ground sector with a view to its global deployment and the launching, if necessary, of operational prototypes manufactured in parallel. During this phase it will also be possible to develop the receivers and local elements and to verify the frequency allocation conditions imposed by the International Telecommunication Union.

The development phase is managed by the GALILEO Joint Undertaking.

Deployment and commercial operation

The constellation deployment phase will consist in gradually putting all the operational satellites into orbit from 2006 and in ensuring the full deployment of the ground infrastructure so as to be able to offer an operational service from 2008 onwards.

Deployment and commercial operation of GALILEO will be entrusted to a private concession holder.






Environment monitoring

A great deal of information can be learnt from the signals coming from the GALILEO satellites. The navigation signals can be efficiently used for accurately determining atmospheric profiles over wide areas, including density, pressure, moisture content and wind patterns. Continuous measurement of atmospheric parameters will provide valuable data for weather forecasting and – over the longer term – for climate monitoring.

The GALILEO system will also help in studies of the sea and oceans, including surveys with buoys floating on currents and tides.

Other Earth sciences will benefit from GALILEO. It can give information for continuous monitoring of the ice caps and for the movements of icebergs. Experiments have already shown the efficiency of satellite navigation for the tracking of recent glacier meltdown caused by a volcanic eruption beneath the ice sheet, when the data can help to predict the movement of the ice and flood water. It can be used in vulcanology, the study of tectonic movements, and the study and prediction of earthquakes. GALILEO could even be used for surveying archaeological sites.

Natural sciences

The use of GALILEO can be extended to biology and animal behaviour, with the great advantage of continuously tracking wild animals. A miniaturised receiver can be attached with a collar to monitored or protected animals, to follow the movement and migration of species that might be in danger. Ethologists and biologists will benefit greatly from this technique. This is important for the study of behaviour and for the monitoring and preservation of habitats.

Environment safety

GALILEO will make our lives safer and allow us to protect the environment more effectively. For example, oil transportation will be managed using this new infrastructure, with the advantage of dramatically reducing the risks to the environment. In the case of oil spills or intentional dumping, perpetrators will be easily identified.

Secure transport of nuclear waste and other dangerous goods will increase the safety of the population and the environment.



GALILEO Info download 

Galileo Application: Environment

PDF 145 KB

Galileo - design consolidation   (09.10.2003)

PDF 1467 KB











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