The Research group of Astronomy and GEomatics (gAGE) is an interdepartmental university group involving the Applied Mathematics IV and Applied Physics Departments of the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). This is a public University under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Projects developed by the group are supported by public institutions and private industries, and they constitute the main founding source of the team.
On July 2009, the Research Group gAGE/UPC created the gAGE-NAV, S.L. Company as an university spin-off.
gAGE/UPC Capacity and Technical Experience
The results achieved in the last years by gAGE/UPC have given to this university research group a high international acknowledgment, which has been shown in the adjudication of several competitive contracts from institutions and companies in the satellite navigation and aeronautical sectors (such as the European Space Agency [ESA], Eurocontrol, Galileo Joint Undertaking [GJU]...). Its members take part in several international groups of experts, have published more than 50 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and more than 150 papers in proceedings in the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) field. In this context, several relevant contributions are detailed below:
1) gAGE/UPC has developed a new satellite navigation concept to make feasible the Centimetre-error-level navigation over Europe using, basically, the infrastructure of a net work of stations already deployed by the European Space Agency for the EGNOS system (Augmentation System for Civil Aviation with a meter level of accuracy and a high integrity). At present, such accuracy can be only achieved by means of a network of stations separated less than 20Km from the user (Real Time Kinematics [RTK]). With the new technique developed by gAGE/UPC (probably the first group in demonstrating the feasibility of the c oncept), the baselines between the reference stations can be extended up to hundreds of kilometres. Therefore, a precise navigation service for a whole continent becomes feasible with a very reduced infrastructure investment regarding to the present RTK sy stem (only some tens of stations [as in EGNOS system] are needed, instead of thousands [as in RTK] for covering all Europe). On the other hand, the setting up of the system does not require a high investment, because it can use the network of reference stations already deployed for the EGNOS system, giving a double use to an investment already done. In 1999, gAGE/UPC patent ed the ionospheric part of the technique for GPS (Wide Area RTK [WARTK], gAGE/UPC patent ) and, in 2002, the algorithms were extended to Galileo and modernized GPS and protected by an ESA founded patent (WARTK-3, in the context of a ESA project).
2) Since 2001, gAGE/UPC is an active member of the EGNOS Data Collection a nd Analysis Working Group of Eurocontrol (the European organization for the safety of air navigation). This working group is devoted to the Operational Validation Activities for the EGNOS system, which is currently being implemented. gAGE/UPC has developed its own tools to analyze the SBAS (EGNOS/WAAS) signal, in both position and Signal in Space domains, including a Global Monitoring System (under a Eurocontrol contract) to analyze the performance of the EGNOS system over Europe on a daily basis.
gAGE/UPC, in collaboration with ESA, has developed several studies on the trans fer of integrity from pseudo-range to position domains that have led to the Stanford-ESA Integrity Diagram (awarded by the US ION GNSS 2006). This technique is used to assess the robustness of the EGNOS system with respect to the integrity bound provision, for all possible satellite geometrical conditions. The Stanford-ESA Integrity Diagram has been adopted by the GNSS European S upervis ory Authority (GSA) recommendations for the EGNOS safety certification as a tool for the integrity assessment in the position domain.
3) At present, gAGE/UP C is working very actively in the field of Precise Ionospheric Determinations. Since 1994 it is developing new algorithms for precise ionospheric and tropospheric sounding. In particular, a precise Ionospheric Model to reconstruct the tridimensional distribution of electrons in the ionosphere was developed, using measures of integrated electron density observed in different directions (tomographic model ). In this approach (protected by a gA GE/UPC Patent N. 9902585), the GPS satellite constellation and the ground and Low Earth Orbiters LEO receivers are used as a huge planetary scanner for atmospheric sounding. This makes feasible to perform a real time reconstruction of its three-dimensional electronic distribution with different approaches (voxel models, improved Abel transform) and data sources.
From 2002 to 2007, gAGE/UPC (M. Hernández-Pajares) was responsible of the generation and distribution of ionospheric correction maps for GPS navigation at a planetary scale, inside t he International GNSS Service (IGS). This activity is done jointly with the three following centers: JPL/ NASA, ESOC/ESA and CODE/Univ.
4) The Education activities of gAGE/UP C involve both, university and post-university levels. Since 1994, it creates and coordinates several lectures and Doctorate courses in GNSS data Processing and Applications at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). Also, it participates in several Master courses at the UPC and the Institute of Geomatics (Barcelona, Spain) since 1997.
In the international field, it participates in the Joint European-Asian education program on Galileo (ASIA@ITC from the European Commission) with several goals: to disseminate the knowledge of the new European Positioning System Galileo and its innovative features in Asian countries, to start up in Asia educational laboratories and to create a group of experts with a common technical background. This project is coordinat ed by the Istituto Mario Boella ISMB from Torino, Italy, and incorporates the following partners: Politecnico di Torino (POLITO), Italy, the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Spain, the South East University of Nanjing (SEU), China, and the Hanoi University of Technology (HUT), Vietnam.
gAGE/UPC has edited a large amount of teaching material (presentations for courses and seminars, sof ware, ...), including two GPS data Processing books, one of them both in Spanish and English.