Search and Rescue (SAR)

Search and Rescue (SAR)

OVERVIEW

NASA’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Office is responsible for the research and development of search and rescue technology as part of the Cospas-Sarsat community. Cospas-Sarsat is an international cooperative effort among 44 member countries and organizations. Members work together to provide accurate, timely and reliable distress alert and location data to help search and rescue authorities assist persons in distress around the globe. NASA has fulfilled its research and development role for the entirety of the initiative’s 30+ year history.

In the United States, SAR efforts are coordinated through the National Search and Rescue Committee. This is a combined effort between NASA and three other U.S. agencies. The Air Force coordinates inland search and rescue, the Coast Guard coordinates maritime search and rescue and oversees SAR policy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in charge of overall operations and is the U.S. liaison to the larger Cospas-Sarsat community.

Quick Facts

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Since 1982 the COSPAS-SARSAT system has provided information assisting in the rescue of more than 46,000 people in more than 13,000 distress situations
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COSPAS-SARSAT uses three types of emergency beacons depending on whether they are carried by individuals, on board aircraft or on board maritime vessels.
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There are over 1 million emergency beacons in use worldwide.
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COSPAS-SARSAT works through three types of satellites: low-Earth orbit (LEOSAR), medium-Earth orbit (MEOSAR), and high-altitude geosynchronous orbit (GEOSAR).
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There are five low-Earth orbit search and rescues satellites (LEOSARs), seven geosynchronous orbit satellites (GEOSARs) and more than 35 medium-Earth orbit satellites (MEOSARs) in operation.   Credit: Lockheed Martin
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There are 65 ground stations called local user terminals (LUT’s) tracking LEOSARs, 31 tracking GEOSARs, and 17 tracking MEOSARs.