GMV to build SouthPAN processing, control centres

By on 25 January, 2023

Lockheed Martin Australia’s satellite communications facility at Uralla in NSW.

Spain-based multinational technology firm GMV has signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin to develop the processing and control centres for Australia and New Zealand’s Southern Positioning Augmentation Network system, SouthPAN.

SouthPAN will be the Australasian implementation of a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) for navigation and precise point positioning (PPP) services.

SouthPAN aims to deliver a signal augmenting GPS and Galileo over the Australasian region, improving accuracy from 5 to 10 metres, to within as little as 10 centimetres.

The system will serve a range of industries, such as agriculture and road, air, maritime, and rail transportation, and geomatics.

With SouthPAN, Australia and New Zealand will join the list of countries and regions that already have their own SBAS systems, such as the USA (WAAS), Europe (EGNOS), India (GAGAN), and Japan (MSAS).

The development, entry into service and operation of SouthPAN is being led by Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand.

In 2020, the two agencies signed the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement (ANZSRICA). Two weeks later, the first services were provided by activating transmission of the system’s first signals.

SouthPAN is the first project where an industry consortium is providing an SBAS system as a service, rather than as a turnkey system.

GMV will be responsible for developing two key subsystems for SouthPAN: the Corrections Processing Facility (CPF) and the Ground Control Centre (GCC). The company will also be responsible for monitoring the system and for ensuring that it complies with the committed performance levels. In addition, GMV will be providing support for the system’s operation and maintenance.

The CPF is in charge of generating correction messages for signals transmitted by GPS and Galileo satellites. This is a process that improves precision for the system’s users by producing accuracy to as little as 10 centimetres.

The CPF is also responsible for detecting malfunctions in the satellites and for generating warnings for users. This will enable the use of SouthPAN by civilian aircraft as a navigation system during flight operations, including precision approaches to runways for landing. Safety-of-life services such as these will be available in 2028.

The GCC, in turn, in operation 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, will perform all the functions needed to monitor and control the system. It will also provide information to the community of users about the system’s operation and availability of its services.

“This contract is the result of years of effort and dedication. We feel very honoured and fortunate, because some engineers may work for their entire career without the opportunity to work on a project with the importance and societal impact that SouthPAN will have,” said Miguel Romay, GMV’s Satellite Navigation Systems General Manager.

GMV has been working on SBAS systems for more than 25 years. It is responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of the Correction Processing Facility Processing Set (CPFPS) for Europe’s current SBAS, known as EGNOS V2.

It has also carried out various projects for implementing SBAS technology in other regions, including the Caribbean and South America (2010) and South Africa (2016).

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