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Galileo satellite sends first signals to Earth

Posted: 13 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:satellite navigation? Giove-B satellite? Galileo?

Giove-B, the test satellite for Europe's Galileo system, has sent its first navigation signals back to Earth, marking what the European Space Agency (ESA) called "a historic step," showing that Galileo can work alongside the GPS system of the United States.

According to a BBC News report, Giove-B, which follows the launch of Giove-A in 2005, carries the most accurate clock ever sent into orbit, key to its intended capacity of providing location information that's accurate to a meter. The Galileo fleet will be fully operational by 2013.

More sophisticated than its predecessor, the half-tonne, 2.4x1x1m box will test further the key Galileo technologies such as the atomic clocks that provide the precise timing underpinning all sat-nav applications.

According to the report, the EU system can offer "the most advanced satellite positioning services, while ensuring compatibility and interoperability with GPS." Engineers are now assessing the signal coming down to Earth.

A focus in coming days will be the in-orbit behavior of Giove-B's passive hydrogen maser clock, which is designed to keep time with an accuracy of better than 1ns in 24hrs.

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