European GNSS experiences service disruptions

July 17th, 2019, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: PositionIT, Featured: PositionIT

Galileo initial navigation and timing services have experienced ongoing interruptions since 12 July 2019, but the services have been restored on 18 July 2019.

Update: 18 July 2019

  • Services recovered
  • Malfunction explained as equipment fault at ground station

Galileo Initial Services have now been restored. Commercial users can already see signs of recovery of the Galileo navigation and timing services, although some fluctuations may be experienced until further notice.

The technical incident originated from an equipment malfunction in the Galileo ground infrastructure, affecting the calculation of time and orbit predictions, which are used to compute the navigation message. The malfunction affected different elements on the ground facilities.

A team composed of European GNSS Agency (GSA) experts, industry, ESA and the European Commission (EC) worked together 24/7 to address the incident. The team is monitoring the quality of Galileo services to restore Galileo timing and navigation services at their nominal levels.

An Independent Inquiry Board has been set up to identify the root causes of the major incident. This will allow the EC, as the programme manager, together with the GSA to draw lessons for the management of an operational system with several millions of users worldwide.

Galileo has been providing initial services since December 2016. During this initial pilot phase preceding the full operational services phase, Galileo signals are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems, which allows for the detection of technical issues before the system becomes fully operational. In the full operational phase, Galileo should function independently of other satellite navigation systems.

Update: 17 July 2019

  • Recovery still in progress; no exact service recovery date
  • GNSS receivers will remain unaffected and compute position and timing using other constellations.
  • Galileo-only GNSS receivers will not produce any navigation message.
  • Galileo still in testing phase, and the latest interruption will inform future redundancy measures
  • Galileo Search and Rescue service remains operational

A team of experts from the European GNSS Agency (GSA), industry, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission is currently implementing and monitoring recovery actions for an incident related to the Galileo ground infrastructure that resulted in a temporary interruption of the Galileo Initial Services. The key objective is to restore the Galileo navigation and timing services for users as soon as possible.

On 12 July, Galileo initial navigation and timing services were interrupted temporarily. The Galileo Search and Rescue service remains operational.

Galileo is widely used by most of the commercially available receivers. Multi-constellation GNSS receivers will remain unaffected and compute position and timing using other constellations. Galileo-only receivers will not produce any navigation message.

As soon as the incident was declared, an Anomaly Review Board was convened and urgent recovery procedures were activated in the affected Galileo infrastructures. Operational teams are working on recovery actions 24/7 to restore the Galileo navigation and timing services as soon as possible.

Based on the results of the troubleshooting activities, several elements of the ground infrastructure were re-initiated. The progress is being closely monitored; it is too early to confirm an exact service recovery date.

The Galileo satellite navigation system launched its Initial Services in December 2016 and since then it has been providing high quality positioning, navigation and timing services to users worldwide. The aim of this Initial Services phase is to allow for the detection of technical issues before the system becomes fully operational.

It was precisely to deal with issues of this nature that the EU opted for a progressive roll-out of the Galileo system. The evolution and planned upgrade of the ground infrastructure will reinforce redundancy of the system towards reaching the full operations phase.

As soon as the outage occurred, the users were informed by the Galileo Service Centre through technical notices on 11 and 13 July (see below), as well as a news item on the GSA website on 14 July. Users will be regularly updated, including on the navigation and timing service recovery date, through notifications and information.

Update: 14 July 2019

Galileo, the European Union’s satellite navigation system, has been affected by a technical incident related to its ground infrastructure since 11 July 2019. The incident has led to a temporary interruption of the Galileo initial navigation and timing services, with the exception of the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) service. The SAR service, used for locating and helping people in distress situations for example at sea or mountains, is unaffected and remains operational.

As a result there is a temporary interruption of some of the Galileo initial services. The navigation messages for all satellites are expired since 01:50 (UTC) on 12/07/2019, and according to the Service Definition Documents, users shall not use expired Galileo navigation messages. This means that the signals may not be available nor meet the minimum performance levels defined in the service definition documents and should be employed at users’ own risk.

The cause of the technical incident is identified and recovery actions are implemented to ensure that the nominal service is resumed as soon as possible while safeguarding quality of the services.

Galileo provides initial services since December 2016. During this initial “pilot” phase preceding the full operational services phase, Galileo signals are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems, which allows for the detection of technical issues before the system becomes fully operational. Nominal Galileo redundant capabilities and associated service continuity functions are partially affected by on-going major deployment activities towards the Galileo “full operational services”.

As foreseen in case of technical incidents, information Notices to Galileo Users (NAGU) were already published on the Galileo Service Centre website. Dedicated NAGUs have been published at the European GNSS Service Centre to inform users on the service impact. Users will be informed regularly, including on the service recovery date.

*This is a developing story – check back for updates.

Contact GSA, www.gsa.europa.eu

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