Galileo-Europe's version of GPS is down due to 'technical incident'

According to the specialist sat-nav site 'Inside GNSS', the glitch happened at the Precise Timing Facility (PTF) in Italy, where all the Galileo system clocks are calibrated and checked. 

Galileo-Europe's version of GPS is down due to 'technical incident'
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Galileo - Europe's version of GPS is down due to 'technical incident'

Europe's Galileo satellite network has been down since Friday, due to a technical incident on the ground infrastructure. Though, the network's search and rescue function, i.e. Galileo Search and Rescue ( SAR) service, that helps people in distress is still operational. 

GSA told service users on Saturday that "the cause of the technical incident is identified" and on Sunday said that the incident is "related to its ground infrastructure". Before that, GSA also issued a notification on Thursday, warning users that the signals might become unreliable. Then, an update came at 01:50 Central European Time on Friday to say that the service was out of use. 

According to the specialist sat-nav site 'Inside GNSS', the glitch happened at the Precise Timing Facility (PTF) in Italy, where all the Galileo system clocks are calibrated and checked. 

 

Europe's Navigation System Galileo grinds to a halt from The Geospatial on Vimeo.

Galileo went live in 2016 and is expected to be fully deployed in 2020. "People should remember that we are still in the 'initial services' phase; we're not in full operation yet", said a spokesperson for the European GNSS Agency ( GSA). 

What is Galileo

Galileo has 24 spacecraft in orbit, and two more is expected to be launched next year. It's a multi-billion euro project of the European Union and the European Space Agency, which acts as the technical and procurement agent. Currently, there are 22 operational satellites in orbit, and another two are in space but testing and 12 under construction. 

Since Galileo is still in a pilot phase, an outage across the entire network will help in identifying any serious malfunctioning at initial stages and build the robustness into the system.

Importance of Galileo for Europe

GPS is integral to the functioning of all modern economies and Galileo is meant to improve GPS services on the Old Continent and end the reliance on US, Russian and Chinese systems. For now, the agency's status page is showing 22 satellites in the Galileo constellation as "not usable", due to a service outage. 

What's affected 

Devices, such as latest smartphone models, will be relying on the data coming from American GPS and depending on the sat-nav chip they have installed. They might also be making connections with the Russian ( Glonass) and Chinese ( Beidou) networks. 

Hopefully, the EU will fix it soon and make Galileo more accurate and robust before it does go into full operation in 2020, as it is not suitable for a relatively new and sophisticated system getting down for so long. 

Watch Video: What is Galileo