ESA is embarking on the in-orbit demonstration of a new satellite navigation constellation operating much closer to our planet, utilising novel frequencies and capabilities, so the Agency is looking for European companies interested in taking part. Attend ESA’s LEO-PNT Industry Day on 7 March at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in the Netherlands to find out more.
ESA’s proposal for experimental LEO-PNT navigation satellites, a component of the new FutureNAV programme, received strong support from Europe’s space ministers at ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level in Paris last November.
An Invitation to Tender is planned to be issued later this year, covering all aspects of the LEO-PNT Orbit Demonstrator, including the space and ground segments, operations, launchers, the test user segment, experimentation and segment demonstration.
The LEO-PNT Industry Day will give an overview of the project to companies, research institutions and ESA Member States delegates.
Satellite navigation coming closer
Europe’s Galileo constellation is already the world’s most accurate satellite navigation system, providing metre-level precision to users worldwide. The general expectation is that satnav is going to keep on getting better, in line with increasing user needs and accuracy requirements. But in fact, traditional Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in medium Earth orbit are approaching their technical limits of performance.
While GNSS will remain a fundamental backbone, for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services to keep on improving, a new element will be required. ESA’s LEO-PNT satellites will test out this concept in practice, with a mini-constellation of at least half a dozen satellites, placed in orbit a matter of hundreds of kilometres above the surface of Earth – as opposed to the 23 222-km-distant Galileo satellites.
New satnav layer for novel PNT services
Combining medium- with low-Earth orbit constellations on a multi-layer basis should represent a significant step forward. Medium Earth orbit was initially selected for GNSS constellations because a couple of dozen satellites at this altitude can deliver global coverage.
In addition, simply by virtue of physics, with less of a distance to cover down to Earth, the signals from these additional LEO-PNT satellite signals can be more powerful, able to overcome interference and reach places where today’s satnav signals cannot reach. And by adopting novel navigation techniques and a wider range of signal bands the satellites can address specialist user needs, such as more rapid fixes, increased precision and signal penetration.
LEO-PNT is supported through the ESA Directorate of Navigation’s FutureNAV programme, which also includes the GENESIS satellite to measure the shape of Earth more accurately than ever before while also boosting the positioning performance of satnav satellites.
To attend the LEO-PNT Industry Day on 7 March 2023 at ESTEC in the Netherlands, and for more information on participation criteria, then please click here.
The ESA Member States currently subscribed to FutureNAV programme Component 1 LEO-PNT are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland the UK.
-ESA also photos
Source: Auto Draft