Cospas-Sarsat is a satellite system designed to provide alert and location information to assist search and rescue operations.
It uses space instruments and ground facilities to detect and locate the signals of emergency locator transmitters operating on the 406 MHz or 121.5 MHz frequencies.
The purpose of the system is to provide worldwide support to all organizations responsible for air, sea and land SAR operations.
The basic concept of the Cospas-Sarsat system features:
- Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs for use in the air), which emit signals in case of emergency
- Instruments on board geostationary and low-Earth orbiting satellites; which detect signals from the ELTs
- Local User Terminals, (LUTs), which receive and process the signals transmitted via the downlink from the satellite, to generate distress alerts
The Mission Control Centers (MCC) which receive alerts from the LUTs and send them to either a Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), a SAR point of contact, or to another MCC.
It is crucial that distress Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) be registered in recognized ELT registration databases which will be accessible to search and rescue authorities at all times.
The information contained in these databases concerning the ELT, its owner and the aircraft carrying the ELT is vital for the effective use of search and rescue mission resources.
Accurate registration of these data determines the success of a search and rescue mission. The final step in coding 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitters is registering the ELT with the appropriate National Authorities.
In accordance with IMO and ICAO requirements, National Authorities must organize resources for making these data available to Search and Rescue services (SAR), on a 24/7 basis.
It is extremely important to register your ELT in order to make it possible for SAR teams to provide an effective response when they are activated.