Galileo grinds to a halt

By on 16 July, 2019

The European GNSS Agency headquarters in Prague.

Europe’s GNSS network begins fifth day offline after ‘technical incident’ at Precise Timing Facility.

The EU’s Galileo network has been essentially offline for around four days, suffering massively degraded service with 24 of its 26 listed as ‘not usable’ and two listed as ‘testing’.

The outage was acknowledged in a GSA advisory posted on Thursday July 11 at 14:41 local time, noting that the outage had begun at 1am that day. This warning was upgraded on Saturday July 13, noting that the signals were ‘not to be used’.

The Galileo Search And Rescue Service (SAR) was unaffected and remains online, according to the GSA.

An announcement posted on the GSA’s website on Sunday July 14 attributed the outage to a ‘technical incident related to ground infrastructure’, with Inside GNSS reporting that the issue is a problem at the Precise Timing Facility in Italy, affecting the entire constellation.

From Inside GNSS‘s report: ‘The Precise Timing Facility is a ground station that generates the Galileo System Time, or GST. The GST is uploaded to the Galileo satellites to make the user localization possible, and it is also disseminated to every user as an accurate time reference. The Precise Timing Facility hosts several Cesium clocks and a Hydrogen Maser clock.’

Independent research has found incaccuracies of up to 500 metres in positioning solutions calculated with GPS and Galileo during the outage. Image: NavSAS.

NavSAS (Navigation Signal Analysis and Simulation), a joint research group of Istituto Superiore Mario Boella and Politecnico di Torino in Italy, has published a detailed analysis of the outage and its effect on receivers.

The group found positioning errors of up to 500m for positioning solutions calculated with GPS and Galileo, and SIS status flags for visible satellites indicating healthy signals.

Astute observers are commenting on Twitter under the hashtage #Galileo and #GalileoDown, with a number of users having a bit of fun with the incident.

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