Galileo is the European Union's Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS). Sometimes called the 'European GPS', Galileo provides accurate positioning and timing information. Once complete in 2020, Galileo aims to be the most precise satellite navigation system in the world.


Anyone with a Galileo enabled device can use its signals for positioning, navigation and timing. Galileo services are based on highly accurate signals, but during the current initial phase they are not available all the time and therefore are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems such as GPS.

Every addition to the constellation gradually improves Galileo availability and performance worldwide. Once the constellation reaches 30 satellites in 2020, Galileo will be fully operational and independent, meaning that a position could be established autonomously everywhere and anytime using Galileo satellites only.

Galileo also has a Search and Rescue (SAR) Service, which uses localisation of distress signals from an enabled beacon. As the EU said, with the start of Galileo initial services in December 2016, the time it takes to detect a person lost at sea or in the mountains after a distress beacon is activated was reduced from up to 4 hours to about 10 minutes.

The accuracy of localisation has improved too, from 10 km without Galileo to less than 2 km with Galileo. As of next year, the service will also send back a signal informing the person in danger that the distress signal has been picked up and localised.