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NASA unveils enhanced search and rescue system

NASA has unveiled an advanced satellite-based search and rescue system.

Washington: NASA has unveiled an advanced
satellite-based search and rescue system that it claims would
quickly identify the locations of people in distress.

The next-generation system called the Distress Alerting
Satellite System (DASS) will be able to locate emergency
beacons carried by aircraft, boats and hikers almost
instantaneously, the US space agency said in a statement.

DASS, designed and developed at the NASA Goddard Space
Flight Centre in Greenbelt, could offer help in minutes and
replace the current `Search and Rescue Satellite` system
that usually take an hour or more to locate lost boaters and
hikers, the agency said.

"DASS technology is the future of international
satellite-aided search and rescue," NASA Search and Rescue
Mission Manager David Affens said while its unveiling

"A few years ago, we looked to see how we could improve
the system and we concluded that the international search and
rescue community would benefit from new technology installed
on GPS.

"We would be able to identify distress signals faster and
with a greater level of precision. In the end, this will save
more lives, reduce risk to rescuers, and save money because
less time will be spent searching.

"When it goes online, DASS will be able to almost
instantaneously detect and locate distress signals generated
by 406 MHz beacons installed on aircraft and vessels or
carried by individuals, greatly enhancing the international
community?s ability to rescue people in distress."

However, the new technology won`t be operational until
the hardware can be fully deployed aboard a constellation of
24 new US Air Force Global Positioning System satellites.

Nine are already in orbit, but the rest may not get there
until 2017 or later, officials said.

In the meantime, the existing satellite rescue system
continues to save lives, they said. So far NASA-developed
technology has saved more than 27,000 lives worldwide since
its inception nearly three decades ago.

The officials also urged people, setting off in boats,
planes or on foot into the wilderness, to carry a satellite
beacon that costs between USD 200 and USD 700 for the handheld
models, and USD 800 and USD 1,500 for those used on boats.


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