Technion helping put traffic cop in space [p. 4]

A new system, being developed by the EU's "Galileo Project" consortium, would prevent collisions between satellites.

October 12, 2006 22:58
1 minute read.

Traffic jams of satellites in space require a system to prevent collisions - and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is participating in the European Union's "Galileo Project" consortium. The consortium is the only one so far that has been accepted to the project in the field of science after winning a competition held by Galileo's management. "Crowding in space has increased. There is a lot of satellite traffic, and it is intensifying. Therefore, there is a need for a 'traffic cop' who will prevent collisions between satellites in space," explained Dr. Pini Gurfil of the Technion's Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, who is taking part in the Galileo Project. "We are developing software for a receiver of Galileo that will gather information from every satellite and will know to calculate its position and relative speed, with accuracy down to a few centimeters. The system will operate automatically and direct the satellites. Moreover, the system will enable a number of satellites t o join together in formation flight." Galileo's management has divided up the consumer market into the commercial niche, civilian uses (such as search and rescue, air traffic control) and the scientific niche. Also taking part are Chalmers University in Sweden, the Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences; in the scientific niche are the Royal Meteorological Society in Great Britain, the companies Starlab and Atos Origin of Spain, and IFREMER - the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea. The Galileo Project is, in effect, the European Global Positioning System (GPS) and committed to free service, available at all times. The project's first satellite was launched in December from Kazakhstan. The Europeans claim that Galileo's accuracy will be greater than the American GPS, coverage of the northern hemisphere will be improved and indication of the user's location will be more reliable. At the end of the process, Galileo will have 30 satellites in three orbits (10 in each orbit) and cost €1 million.

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