theCOSPAS/SARSAT satellites areaimed toward the Earth todetect signals
distress. Thesignals are transmitted to spacefrom downed airplanes,capsized boats, and otheremergency situations. TheCOSPAS/SARSAT system aidsworldwide rescue centers inlocating the sources
thesignals to speed search andrescue efforts.COSPAS (a Russian abbreviation
Space System for Search
Vessels in Distress) and SARSAT(Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System)represent a model program
international cooperation. TheUnited States, Canada, France(SARSAT), and the Soviet Union(COSPAS) are the founders ofthe program. As of mid
other participating countries areBulgaria, Denmark, Finland,Norway, and the UnitedKingdom. Additional countries(e.g., Brazil) are involved innegotiations for theirparticipation.Since COSPAS/SARSAT programinception, the NationalAeronautics and SpaceAdministration
hasprovided ongoing research anddevelopment to create spaceand ground systems.
hascollaborated closely with the
Air Force, the U.S. CoastGuard, and the National Oceanicand Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) from the early phasesthrough the ongoingenhancement activities. NOAAdirects the current operationalsystem within the United States.The
Air Force, the
Coast Guard, and theirrespective auxiliaryorganizations are performing theactual search and rescue tasks.The
Air Force serves as thecentral communications pointfor the United States search andrescue activities and as a link
the international community.COSPAS/SARSAT is divided intotwo systems
detectemergency beacons. The firstsystem broadcasts
MHz frequencies andworks with Emergency LocatorTransmitters (ELTs) andEmergency Position IndicatingRadio Beacons (EPIRBs) at thosefrequencies. This system islimited
a circular area withina
miles) radiusof a ground station.
MHzfrequency provides monitoringfor the entire Earth.
years of theprogram, COSPAS/SARSAT hasbeen instrumental in saving over
lives. In the future, theexpansion
COSPAS/SARSATwill provide increasinglyaccurate locations worldwide,improve distress detection, andprovide enhanced data handlingto help speed up life-savingactivities.