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Galileo Sends Its First Signals 789

Posted by Zonk
from the showing-off-for-the-neighbors dept.
VVrath writes "Galileo, the European answer to the US Military-owned GPS has sent it's first signals to ground stations in the UK and Belgium. The first satellite in the Galileo system, Giove-A was launched on December 28th 2005, and is set to be followed by a further 29 satellites by 2010. At a cost of over $4 Billion, is this system really going to offer any major advantages over GPS, or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?"
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Galileo Sends Its First Signals

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  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:33PM (#14476376) Homepage
    ...it's always a good idea to have redundancy.
    • I agree (Score:4, Funny)

      by MtlDty (711230) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @03:05PM (#14476962)
      ...it is always a good idea to have redundancy.
  • jamming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by towaz (445789) * on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:33PM (#14476377)
    What happened with the usa requesting that they can jam the sat network when needed?
    Did they get this denied or incorporated in this network?
    • Re:jamming (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MikeWasHere05 (900478) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:39PM (#14476412)
      Could someone provide a link to an article saying that the US specifically wanted the ability to jam Galileo's signal? Not trolling here, just haven't seen one yet.

      The closest thing I could find was this: http://www.useu.be/Galileo/June1902NATOBellGalileo GPS.html [www.useu.be]
      If the Galileo signal directly overlays the GPS M-code signal, he warned, "jamming one would also jam the other, resulting in a negative impact on NATO's military effectiveness in the area of operations, potentially risking fratricide on friendly forces and civil populations."
      So I don't think that NATO/US is asking for the ability to jam the signal, just stating that the frequencys are close enough that interference/jamming on Galileo could negatively affect GPS.

      Sorry if this post isn't fully coherent. I have a pretty bad headache right now.
    • Re:jamming (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ryan Stortz (598060)
      According to Wikipedia's page on Galileo [wikipedia.org]:

      The European Union has agreed to switch to a range of frequencies known as Binary Offset Carrier 1.1 in June 2004, which will allow both European and American forces to block each other's signals in the battlefield without disabling the entire system.

      The writeup is a little confusing, it looks like its saying that GPS is blockable by "European forces" and the USA is alright with it. As far as I'm aware, that is not the case.

      • Re:jamming (Score:5, Informative)

        by Some Bitch (645438) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:12PM (#14476635)
        The writeup is a little confusing, it looks like its saying that GPS is blockable by "European forces" and the USA is alright with it. As far as I'm aware, that is not the case.

        GPS is blockable by any idiot with a soldering iron, you don't need the permission of the US government just a little knowledge of electronics.

  • hum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by McGiraf (196030) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:34PM (#14476383) Homepage
    it not 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency it's 'you cannot prevent us from using this one USA' by the European Space Agency.

    • by reporter (666905) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:03PM (#14476579) Homepage
      Regrettably, many Americans view Europeans as uncompetitive. The American urban legend says that the socialist states in Europe destroy economic growth and that, as a consequence, Europe lacks the economic structure to build competitive products.

      Americans conveniently overlook the fact that Europeans have chosen to be a bit more socialist in their economic policies in order to build kinder and gentler societies. Just compare the crime rates between the USA and Europe. The Europeans have largely succeeded.

      This Galileo system launched by Europe also demonstrates that Europe continues to be technologically competent and that slightly socialistic economic policies have not diminished Europe's ability to compete.

      The Europeans should continue to build competitive national projects to demonstrate (1) that they can continue to compete with the USA and (2) that you do not need a huge military budget to spur innovation. Civilian budgets work just fine. The military industrial complex be damned.

      • by Otter (3800) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:33PM (#14476763) Journal
        This Galileo system launched by Europe also demonstrates that Europe continues to be technologically competent and that slightly socialistic economic policies have not diminished Europe's ability to compete...you do not need a huge military budget to spur innovation.

        Whatever the merits of these points, I'm not sure how reimplementing GPS 27 years after the analogous US satellite was launched demonstrates them.

      • The USA has always been a bit crypto fascist but it really is insane how much it seems to have *increased* since the end of the cold war.

        "we believe in freedom and peace yet also we must also spend 4 times as much as china on our military per citizen"
      • A cursory review of the literature leads your statements to be fatally incorrect. Crime rates are in fact lower in the US than in many European countries.

        Burglary rates for Scotland, Austria, and England and Wales are reported as higher for the entire period of 1980 through 2000. For England and Wales, this difference is as much as 50% higher crime rate per capita than the US after 1993.

        Don't believe me. Check the figures yourself [crimereduction.gov.uk]. I should also point out that these figures come from a UK authority,
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Now check the figures for murder and violent crime between the EU and the US and I think you'll see a somewhat different picture. Then look at how many of the deaths in the US were caused by guns and then have a think on why the burglary rates in the US are lower. I think I know which of those I would rather have a lower rate of.
        • by Cerebus (10185) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @05:34PM (#14477814) Homepage
          Perusing the DoJ report you linked to, it shows that in 1999, you were about 1.5 times more likely to have your house robbed or car stolen in the UK, but twice as likely to be raped and 4 times more likely to be murdered in the US (using the reported/1000 population rates). While the totals of all these show an overall rate in the UK as 1.45 times higher in the UK, the difference is nearly entirely in property crimes.

          What was your point again?
      • by Malor (3658) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @05:30PM (#14477788) Journal
        What's really stupid is that, fundamentally, the two systems aren't that much different. Europeans spend a great deal of money on social welfare, which the conservatives here say makes them non-competitive. I can actually, to some degree, buy that argument.

        However, you can't say that America is better in any significant way. Instead of spending huge amounts of money on social programs, we spend absolutely obscene amounts of money on the military. Money we don't even have... we are borrowing incredibly heavily to finance our war machine. (and you people are giving us the wealth to do it!) Both are consumption items; money spent on welfare or the military is just gone, consumed. It can't be used for investment or research. And it's no longer in the taxpayers' pocketbooks for them to use themselves. Our taxes, in essence, is organized theft of the population at gunpoint.... to make more guns.

        The only reason the US standard of living isn't a lot lower is because we're borrowing from our children to live high on the hog... we'll have guns AND butter, dammit. Somehow, I don't think our kids are going to be willing to pay our debts.

        There's an old aphorism, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Europe seems kind of stuck in the fish-giving stage.

        The US, on the other hand, appears to subscribe to the theory, "If you have the biggest guns, you can just take all the goddamn fish you want."
        • One of the reasons why the US pays a lot more money than the Europeans do for defense is that the US is also paying for the European's defense: we shared a somewhat more equitable share of the load back during the Cold War when there was a functional German army which would have comprised much of the first line of defense against the Soviet armored spearhead, but after the Soviet Union collapse Europe decided to pare defense budgets down substantially and spend the savings on further increasing the size of
  • by Erik Hensema (12898) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:35PM (#14476387) Homepage

    ... and that's why it's better.

  • by BarronVonGoerig (907146) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:35PM (#14476390)
    this isn't a chance for the EU to show off...it is just another way for the EU to become more independant, because remember, the US can shut down GPS service to the EU at any time. >tg
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:36PM (#14476392) Homepage
    or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?"

    Yeah, because God forbid those Europeans act unilaterally on a technological matter involving their self-interest. You would think that five years of the Bush administration would have convinced the rest of the world that we always have their interests at heart. OK, that's all I wanted to say, time to cook up another batch of Freedom Fries.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:43PM (#14476437)
      Agreed, this is like asking "Why does Britain needs an air force when the US already has one?"

      As it happens, this will also be good for all of us. Galileo promises [bbc.co.uk] sub-meter accuracy, faster acquisition, and better penetration through cover.

      I'll be pleased as punch to accept this gift from Europe.

      • by adrianmonk (890071) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @08:08PM (#14478582)
        As it happens, this will also be good for all of us. Galileo promises sub-meter accuracy, faster acquisition, and better penetration through cover.

        I agree -- it will even be good for the US. It provides an extra level of redundancy, and what's more, it's engineered by a completely different group of people in a different country, so they may have different failure modes. Anyone for whom it's truly important to have accurate geolocation data will now have the option of getting a receiver for each system, with one serving as a backup to the other.

        Nations other than the US and the EU nations will now have less risk of it shutting down because blocking acces to both systems will require the cooperation of the US and the EU.

  • Advantages (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:36PM (#14476397)
    Galileo has a bunch of advantages over GPS, like being designed to work to a higher degree of acuracy and to work inside buildings and in built-up areas. Take a look at this article http://www.gpsworld.com/gpsworld/article/articleDe tail.jsp?id=61295 [gpsworld.com] for more information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:38PM (#14476407)
    or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?"

    What the hell is this?? More like anybody with more than 1/2 a fuckin brain realizes its a BAD idea to have the only positioning system run by a country who has made it blatantly obvious they don't care about what any other countries feel.
  • Independence (Score:2, Insightful)

    One of the points, besides accuracy, is independence. Such a system is important for military uses. As the U.S. are getting more idiotic with the day, and can turn off GPS when they want, Europe has decided this is a thing worth having for yourself. And I wholeheartedly agree.
    • Re:Independence (Score:3, Informative)

      by werewolf1031 (869837)
      While I agree with the rest of your post, please make a distinction between U.S. citizens and its government, they are not one in the same, and there are a great many (myself included) who strongly disagree with many of the egregious actions taken by our current administration. There's quite a diversity of opinion and often sharp disagreement in this country, please don't lump us all into a single group.

      That's all I'm asking. Thanks.
  • Politics (Score:2, Informative)

    by denominateur (194939)
    I remember reading (In PhysicsWorld published by the IoP [www.iop.org] that the political reasoning behind the GPS workalike system was basically that the United States cannot be trusted to provide GPS functionality (as happened on 9/11) in emergencies and during exceptional circumstances. As more and more businesses (and most transport) depend on GPS functionality the European Union has decided to build something more thrustworthy and the improvements are just a side-effect. In the end, both parties will b
  • by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:41PM (#14476423) Homepage
    I would think the reason is completely obvious: It's a really bad idea to have your critical infrastructure depend on something external you can't control.

    In a data center, do you trust your ISP has full redundancy and will never, ever fail, decide to disconnect you or go bankrupt? Or you you use several ISPs, have an UPS and a standby generator just in case some day something does go wrong?
  • Piss and moan.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:44PM (#14476438)
    At a cost of over $4 Billion, is this system really going to offer any major advantages over GPS, or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?"

    What the hell is news of a new satilite navigation system passing it's first tests doing in the Politics section? Competition does not hurt, the lack of it does. Doing something better than the competition and never tolerating monopoly, Isn't that in the best traditions of a modern market economy? I cannot for the life of me imagine why it should be in our interest to allow the US-Military to monopolize the satilite navigation business. Please let's not turn this into another US vs. Europe pissing contest...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:45PM (#14476445)

    Why include such idiocy in the story? One very obvious advantage over GPS that is stated in the fucking article is that the USA reserves the right to switch GPS off. And, with ten seconds over at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], you could find out that Galileo has a much better resolution than GPS. So mod entire story as -1, Flamebait - because there's no -5, Fucking Idiot At The Wheel option.

  • Short answer: "YES" (Score:3, Informative)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:45PM (#14476448) Homepage
    or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?
    The short answer is: "Yes, is". The longer answer is, the new system promises more precision and guarantees of the navigation quality. Both of these would be much easier to achieve withing the GPS' framework, but providing credible competition is usually the best way to shove almost any service provider into improving their offering.

    When the provider is US Government, it may be the only way... Still, there is no reason for Galileo to be incompatible with the existing GPS clients, that's just evil...

    • When the provider is US Government, it may be the only way... Still, there is no reason for Galileo to be incompatible with the existing GPS clients, that's just evil...

      it's fully compatible as it uses both its own and the GPS protocol

      • by mi (197448)
        it's fully compatible as it uses both its own and the GPS protocol
        Is it? I recall reading somewhere, that it was not going to be. Still, one has to wonder, whether the compatibility will be of the infamous "embrace and extend" kind...
  • Politics? (Score:4, Funny)

    by zardo (829127) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:46PM (#14476449)
    Why was this categorized as politics? So that we could all argue who is better, Europe or the U.S?

    Had this been put in the proper category, like Hardware or Science, I'd say: Great, maybe I could get 10cm accuracy with this, GPS and GPRS combined.

    But since it's politics we're discussing here, I say: how long before France, Germany and the U.K. start argueing over trivial issues. This whole European Union thing is too de-centralized, it's only a matter of time before it's torn apart.

    • Re:Politics? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin AT amiran DOT us> on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:14PM (#14476643) Homepage Journal
      ...France, Germany and the U.K. start argueing over trivial issues.

      Trivial issues, you mean like theEuropean Constitution [dw-world.de] or farm subsidies [bbc.co.uk], which are a substantial portion of the EU's budget?

      The EU has been arguing over very, very substantial issues for a long time. The question is whether or not the Union will survive them. My money used to be on no, and is slowly moving towards yes. This is mainly because I believe integration will slow down; we'll have a European identity, and a great deal of cooperation, but I do not think Europe will ever become a superstate.

      Personally, I think that's a good thing.
  • A new low for /. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quax (19371) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:49PM (#14476467)
    Now the wording of an article already tries to whip up nationalistic frenzy. What happened to this site? Am I the only one who remembers that /. used to be about cool open source technology? Technology that brings us together across all borders rather than drive us apart.
  • Doesn't anybody remember that our GPS system is on the brink of failure [slashdot.org]? Who knows, maybe soon we'll be borrowing their system!
  • Concept (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RomulusNR (29439) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:55PM (#14476504) Homepage
    You know, any geek worth his salt has heard of the importance of redundancy in a high-dependency system.
  • grammar matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisCampbell47 (181542) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @01:57PM (#14476515)
    Galileo ... has sent it's first signals to ground stations

    Tilting at windmills, I know, but please see my sig. Grammar matters. The smart people you're supposedly trying to reach when you write are tuning out and moving on when you make errors as basic as its vs. it's.

  • The Jamming Issues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daneboy (315359) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:00PM (#14476543) Journal
    People mention the "jamming issues" -- here's the scoop... GPS transmits signals intended for both cilivian and military use, in distinct frequency ranges. The military one is encrypted and can (theoretically) thus only be used by the US military and its friends. In a war zone, the US military can "jam" the civilian bands while leaving the military signal intact, which from a military perspective is a Good Thing.

    The originally proposed Galileo design was such that the frequency range used by Galileo's equivalent to the US civilian signal overlapped the GPS military one. Thus, if the US wanted to jam or block Galileo's civilian signal, it would also have to jam the GPS military one -- which (to the US military) is a Bad Thing.

    I don't know if/how this situation was resolved. Anyone?
  • Oh please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:01PM (#14476553)
    Slashdot should really not post simple minded flame-bait like this:

    "At a cost of over $4 Billion, is this system really going to offer any major advantages over GPS, or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?"

    Yeah the system will offer major advantages and they are the following:

    It will work when the the US decides to turn off, or disrupt the GPS. The US has never promised that it will always keep the GPS working, and why should they -- we paid for it with our tax money and the US government will always turn it off or disrupt its operation when suitable for American interests.

    For example, the civilian GPS has signal has an intentionally added error in order to prevent it from being used for military purposes. Also, the civilian GPS signal gets further disrupted over war zones (such as iraq) to make it especially useless for anyone that is not the US military. Apparently, the military uses another GPS signal which is not useable by other parties.

    And thats the reason why Russia already has their own alternative GPS system in place and the Europeans are building their own. It seems pretty reasonable to me.
  • by richdun (672214) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:07PM (#14476604)
    ...that having one satellite in orbit does little if anything for you, even if it is just a test sat. You need multiple satellites to do any real navigation, since only with multiple fixes can you eliminate errors in tracking, not to mention what you get when the satellite is on the other side of the world. This is a good sign, but it's just a test sat, and only one, so let's not get too excited just yet. Jules Verne (another ESA project, for the ISS) has been due for a long time, and was late even before Columbia.

    Also, while Galileo receivers in general may be more accurate than, say, the GPS receiver in your PDA, high-grade GPS receivers used in military and commerical research applications can get centimeter or finer resolution - and that's with the current generation of GPS sats. There are two new, next-generation GPS sats in orbit now, with the entire constellation to be replaced over the next few years. These new sats promised even better performance. Plus, the signal of GPS that was previously military-only was recently (past two or three years) opened for civilian use, so given time to produce new receivers, I don't think you'll see great accuracy differences between GPS and Galileo (unless of course the DoD decides we can't have GPS, but I think that's more the point here anyhow).
  • by sm284614 (946088) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:17PM (#14476666)
    My neighbour has a swimming pool which he says my friends or I can use any time we like (unless there's an emergency), but we're decided to put our money together and build our own swimming pool, which will be slightly better than his. For some reason he accused us of showing off when we told everyone about this, we just thought that it was best to have our own in case we're not always friends.
  • If you must ask why (Score:5, Informative)

    by blindseer (891256) <blindseer AT earthlink DOT net> on Sunday January 15, 2006 @02:25PM (#14476715)
    Galileo offers:

    - Higher accuracy for commercial subscribers than offered by GPS.
    - Non-military, muli-national control. No one country/entity can turn it off.
    - Availability on Arctic and Antarctic waters. While not useful to most, apparently including the US military, it is useful for shipping and search and rescue for many European countries.
    - Interoperability/compatibility with GPS. One can back up the other to offer higher availability and/or accuracy.

    The only problem I can see is that they use the same frequencies. If some one jams one they are also jamming the other. Given the military capability of the countries funding both systems I can imagine such jamming will be very short lived.
  • by BigGerman (541312) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @03:25PM (#14477072)
    Will GPS still work if the receiver is in low earth orbit? Say 60 to 100 miles up? Would it be reliable as far as the 3d positioning?
    • It'll work where ever you are as long as you can receive the signal. Given a good enough antenna you could be on the moon. :-)

      But seriously, the GPS satellites have their antennas pointing downwards and they are in middle earth orbit which is the next step above LEO. Just remeber that you don't have interefence from the atmosphere when you do your calculations and you should be fine.

      Happy LEO flight!

      /greger

  • Not Accurate (Score:3, Informative)

    by RemovableBait (885871) <slashdot.blockavoid@co@uk> on Sunday January 15, 2006 @04:10PM (#14477320) Homepage
    It is important to note that Giove-A is NOT the 'first satellite in the system', it is only a TEST satellite, for TESTING purposes. As the system stands, no useful navigation can be made with just one satellite (as you need multiple signals to correct errors).

    The original intentions of ESA was to make Giove-A a testing satellite providing signals back to ground stations throughout the life of it's 2 year mission. This particular satellite will not be part of the fully functional Galileo system.

    On another note, we need a moderation system for articles: -1, Flamebait; -2, Wrong Section; -3, Submitter-knows-fuck-all-about-the-subject.
  • by TBone (5692) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @04:14PM (#14477341) Homepage
    At a cost of over $4 Billion, is this system really going to offer any major advantages over GPS, or is it merely a politicised 'anything you can do we can do better' by the European Space Agency?
    You mean, will it do anything besides...(taken from here...) [bbc.co.uk]):
    • Galileo should offer greater accuracy - down to a metre and less
    • Greater penetration - in urban centres, inside buildings, and under trees
    • Faster coordinate fix
    • It will be able to tell users if there are major errors that could compromise performance.
    • Users will also benefit enormously from the agreement between Europe and the US to make their sat-nav systems compatible and "interoperable"
    No, it's just political maneuvering....
  • by Werrismys (764601) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @07:41PM (#14478466)
    The GPS as we know it is US military controlled. GPS is needed now, everywhere. US is not what is used to be. Hence, need for European GPS clone.
  • by GrpA (691294) on Sunday January 15, 2006 @09:25PM (#14478908)
    About 10 years ago, when visiting an air force base in Australia (as a journalist) I asked about the clear navigational dome on some of the older aircraft. I expected to hear a response about how the aircraft in service were all so old that they predated more modern navigation methods, but was suprised to hear,

    "The US government may be able to turn off the GPS system, but they still can't turn off the stars".

    They were serious. This pretty much illustrated to me that most countries don't trust the GPS system for critical purposes.

    GrpA

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