News Release

Advancing satellite-based PNT service: low earth orbit satellite constellations augment the GNSS

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences

The hybrid LEO augmentation constellation with Walker 60/6/2 and Walker 108/12/6.


The hybrid LEO augmentation constellation with Walker 60/6/2 and Walker 108/12/6.

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Credit: Satellite Navigation

A study has outlined the critical needs and essential technologies for a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation to augment satellite navigation systems, significantly improving the Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services. This research specifically targets the diverse demands of different users for LEO augmented GNSS, the possible contribution of LEOs to PNT performances, and the key technologies referring to the LEO-based navigation augmentation system.

The Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), including the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), are the most widely used in providing PNT services. However, GNSS signals from geostationary orbit (GEO), inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO), and medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites often face interference issues due to their low received signal power. Besides, the PNT service performance is relatively poor in polar regions because of the limited inclination angles of all MEO and IGSO satellites. This vulnerability compromises the accuracy and reliability of PNT services provided by the GNSS.

In a study (DOI: 10.1186/s43020-024-00133-w) published in Satellite Navigation on 29 April 2024, researchers from the Xi'an Research Institute of Surveying and Mapping introduced the augmentation to satellite navigation systems by integrating LEO constellations. This development is set to significantly refine the precision and reliability of global PNT services.

The integration of LEO constellations with the GNSS, can fulfil the requirements of some special PNT users that cannot be fulfilled with existing GNSS. The study's findings indicate that different kinds of PNT users have different demands for LEO navigation enhancement, and the special demands of particular user groups must be taken into consideration. The research also proposes the key technologies for the construction of LEO navigation augmentation constellation.

Dr. Yuanxi Yang, the lead researcher and correspondent for the article, highlighted the impact of these enhancements: "LEO constellations can significantly enhance not only the accuracy, continuity and availability of PNT service, but also the reliability, integrity and safety for PNT users" stated Dr. Yang.

This breakthrough marks a critical progress in satellite navigation technology, promising to improve the quality of existing GNSS. The reasonable design of LEO satellites ensures a more secure satellite-based PNT service system, fulfilling more requirements of special users.





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Funding information

This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 42388102; No. 41931076), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2020YFB0505800) and the Laoshan Laboratory (Grant No. LSKJ202205101).

About Satellite Navigation

Satellite Navigation (E-ISSN: 2662-1363; ISSN: 2662-9291) is the official journal of Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The journal aims to report innovative ideas, new results or progress on the theoretical techniques and applications of satellite navigation. The journal welcomes original articles, reviews and commentaries.

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