The Cospas-Sarsat System provides distress alert and location information to search and rescue (SAR) services throughout the world for maritime, aviation and land users in distress. The System is comprised of:
- satellites in Low-altitude Earth Orbit (LEOSAR) and Geostationary Orbit (GEOSAR) that process and / or relay signals transmitted by distress beacons;
- ground receiving stations called Local User Terminals (LUTs) which process the satellite signals to locate the beacon; and
- Mission Control Centres (MCCs) that provide the distress alert information to SAR authorities.
The Cospas-Sarsat System can detect and locate distress beacons that operate at 406 MHz. Satellite processing of old analogue technology beacons that transmit at 121.5 MHz ended on 1 February 2009.