Beacon Awareness Day (#406Day) is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work carried out by Search and Rescue teams across the globe that risk their lives daily to save people in distress. It also aims to remind the owners of Search and Rescue beacons of the need to register their beacons and test them regularly.
On #406Day2021, we celebrate Search and Rescue teams all around the world. But why 406? Well, 406 Day, as April 6th is written in the US where the initiative emerged, is a reference to the 406 MHz frequency of the Search and Rescue beacons used by the international rescue organisation Cospas-Sarsat. These beacons help save an average of seven lives every day around the world.
The EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), the European Commission, and their partners, the European Space Agency (ESA), is proud to celebrate Galileo’s contribution to this international effort.
The Search and Rescue (SAR) transponders installed onboard the Galileo satellites decrease the detection and location time of a distress beacon dramatically, speeding up the rescue response and augmenting the chances of survival. Galileo/SAR is the only system delivering the Return Link Service (RLS). This feature provides the user in distress with an acknowledgment indication on the beacon that the distress signal was received and its position located.
Today, Galileo provides more than 90% of the approved L-band satellite-based search and rescue capabilities with 24/7 worldwide coverage. On top, Galileo is also the largest search and rescue ground segment provider with a committed performance of over 20% of the Earth's surface.
It is a great European achievement, which shows that Europe is not only a major space power but also an actor continuously working on people's well-being. The 406 Day is also the perfect occasion to pay tribute to all the members of the Rescue teams around the world.
As announced last year, and based on the feedback received from more than 250 operational Search and Rescue units, Galileo is designing new features to answer their operational needs as closely as possible, to save even more lives. The Remote Beacon Activation Service (e.g. in the case of the disappearance of a plane or a vessel) and the Two-Way communication functionality (that allows rescue coordinators to send pre-programmed questions and instructions to the person in distress) is due to enter into preliminary testing shortly.
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