Operational Differences Between MEOSAR and GEO/LEOSAR Capabilities


  1. Gauthier, S.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN)
This report quantifies the operational benefits for the CF search and rescue (SAR) system of using the medium earth orbit search and rescue (MEOSAR) satellite constellation compare to the existing SAR satellite constellation. Data from the Canadian SAR system operations is used to characterize the nature of SAR Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) related operations in Canada. The MEOSAR technical capability is then compared to the 406 MHz portion of the SARSAT system to identify the time differences at major steps in SAR operations. The conclusion is that the overall MEOSAR operational capability will be similar to the existing 406 MHz Low Earth Orbit SAR (LEOSAR) / Geostationary Earth Orbit SAR (GEOSAR) systems. The major operational difference occurs in rare cases when a SAR beacon is detected by MEOSAR, but undetected by GEOSAR (estimated 3 cases / year), in which case having the MEOSAR system would initiate a SAR search and rescue mission 46 minutes earlier than without it. MEOSAR can also save about 45 hours flying time in rare cases when damaged beacons do not transmit long enough for LEOSAR to detect the signal. The most pressing issue for the SAR system at the moment is that Cospas-Sarsat will stop using 121.5 MHz analog beacons in February 2009. Canada does not yet mandate the use of 406 MHz beacons so the majority of SAR incidents would be effectively converted to non-SARSAT searches adding a 45 h delay to each incident. This would increase the DND annual SAR expenses

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Report Number
DRDC-CORA-TM-2009-011 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Feb 2009
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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