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Concept of COSPAS-SARSAT system

The basic Cospas-Sarsat concept is illustrated in the adjacent figure. 

The System is composed of:

  • distress radiobeacons (ELTs for aviation use, EPIRBs for maritime use, and PLBs for personal use) which transmit signals during distress situations;

  • instruments on board satellites in geostationary and low-altitude Earth orbits which detect the signals transmitted by distress radiobeacons;

  • ground receiving stations, referred to as Local Users Terminals (LUTs), which receive and process the satellite downlink signal to generate distress alerts; and

  • Mission Control Centers (MCCs) which receive alerts produced by LUTs and forward them to Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs), Search and Rescue Points Of Contacts (SPOCs) or other MCCs.

The Cospas-Sarsat System includes two types of satellites:

  • satellites in low-altitude Earth orbit (LEO) which form the LEOSAR System
  • satellites in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) which form the GEOSAR System

The future Cospas-Sarsat System will include a new type of satellite in the medium-altitude Earth orbit (MEO) which will form the MEOSAR System. 

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