Similar Terms: COSPAS/SARSAT
Cospas-Sarsat is the international satellite-based Search And Rescue (SAR) distress beacon detection and information distribution system.
SARSAT is an acronym for Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking, while COSPAS is an acronym for the Russian words "Cosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynich Sudov," which means "Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress."
Originally established in 1979 by Canada, France, the United States, and the former Soviet Union, it currently (as of 2011) has 26 countries providing ground services (including Australia) and 11 other countries as user states. It is best known as the system that detects and locates Emergency Beacons activated by aircraft (ELT), ships/boats (EPIRB) and hikers (PLB) in distress.
Cospas-Sarsat originally began tracking two types of distress radio beacons in September 1982. Specifically; EPIRBs (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons), which signal maritime distress; and ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters), which signal aircraft distress and more recently (from 2003 in the US) PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) for personal use intended to indicate a person in distress who is away from normal emergency services.