Press Release

New study for more accurate satellite navigation

By SpaceRef Editor
April 30, 2021
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For climate and environmental research, satellites provide extremely important data every day,
such as how high sea levels are rising or what effects global warming is having on glacier ice
shrinkage in the Alps.

Research contract worth one million euros

A new study aims to further increase the accuracy of this space data from climate and
environmental satellites. To make this possible, the Prague-based European Global Navigation
Satellite System Agency (GSA) awarded a one-million-euro research contract to RUAG Space
earlier this year. Headquartered in Zurich, the leading aerospace supplier in Europe is also one of
Austria’s largest space technology companies, with its headquarters in Vienna.

To provide precise Earth observation data from space, the satellite’s position in space must be
known as accurately as possible. To determine the exact position of satellites, RUAG Space’s
navigation receivers today use the signals from the 22 European Galileo navigation satellites.
“Currently, there is still untapped potential in the Galileo satellites. They transmit several signals.
On one of these signals, a new service, the High Accuracy Service (HAS), will support significantly
improved positioning from 2022,” explains Martin Auer, who is leading the study at RUAG Space.
“When this new service goes into operational use, it will need equipment that can do something
with it. That’s what we’re working on.” By the end of 2022, RUAG Space will develop a new
product in Vienna that will be able to use the new Galileo HAS service.

Quantum leap: five times more accurate positioning thanks to software update

However, navigation receivers from RUAG Space that process Galileo signals already ensure
precise positioning. These include the Sentinel-6 environmental satellite, which has been in space
since November 2020. It measures the amount of sea level change and provides crucial data on
coastal areas at risk from sea level rise. “The more accurate the satellite’s position can be
determined, the more precise the environmental data it collects and provides. With the more
accurate data, for example, the danger to coastal cities such as Venice can be predicted more
effectively” declared Fiammetta Diani, Head of Market Development at GSA.

RUAG Space is developing a software update for navigation receivers of the current PODRIX
receiver generation already in space, such as those used for Sentinel-6. This will enable these
receivers to increase the accuracy of satellite positioning from the current level of about one meter
to 20 centimeters. “This is a dramatic improvement – a quantum leap – in accurate satellite
positioning that will contribute to much better climate and environmental data,” says Heinz
Reichinger, the product manager responsible at RUAG Space.

More information

Detailed information on the study can be found on the RUAG Space website at:

You can also find this media release here:

Media contact

Philipp Bircher, Director Communications Space, +41 79 790 11 81,

Marie Ménard, Communications Officer at European GNSS Agency, +420 234 766 627, 

SpaceRef staff editor.