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GIOVE-B on the Air

The European Space Agency announced Wednesday that its GIOVE-B satellite had begun transmitting navigation signals. This satellite will be used to test equipment and technology for use in the Galileo satellite navigation system, which is designed to complement and compete with with U.S. GPS system.

“Now with GIOVE-B broadcasting its highly accurate signal in space we have a true representation of what Galileo will offer to provide the most advanced satellite positioning services, while ensuring compatibility and interoperability with GPS,” said Galileo Project Manager Javier Benedicto.

More work and more satellites are needed before Galileo will be usable for navigation. GIOVE-B gives engineers an opportunity to determine the quality of the signal, observe the effect of the path from space to Earth on the signal and verify the satellite’s signal will not interfere with services operating in adjacent frequency bands. Researchers are using the 25 meter antenna at Chilbolton Observatory in the United Kingdom to analyze the signals. The GIOVE-B control center in Telespazio’s facilities in Fucino, Italy, the Galileo Processing Centre at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), in the Netherlands, and the ESA ground station at Redu, Belgium are also involved with the testing.

Technical details on the satellite are available in the ESA publication The First Galileo Satellites = Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element GIOVE.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.