July 19, 2016


Argos, unique system of location and data collection by satellite dedicated to the study and protection of the environment, was created as part of a French-American collaboration between CNES (Centre national d'études spatiales, French Space Agency), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The European Meteorological Agency Eumetsat joined the programme in 2006, and was followed by ISRO (Indian Space and Research Organization) in 2007. Today, CNES is still the architect of the system and the prime contractor for the space equipments and the mission ground stations. In 1986, CNES created a subsidiary, CLS, which has since then ensured the operational exploitation of the Argos system for its users.

The ARGOS beacons have several applications:

  • Understanding climate change
  • Ocean and weather
  • Protecting biodiversity
  • Protecting public health and wellbeing
  • Monitoring water resources
  • Managing and protecting marine resources
  • Tracking adventurers and yacht races
  • Improving maritime security

The Argos system operates as follows:

Today, about 22,000 beacons are deployed worldwide. Powered by battery or solar energy, they send data at regular intervals to the Argos instruments on board seven satellites that fly by at 850 km altitude. The information collected by the satellites is then downloaded to about sixty receiving stations that transmit them to the two processing centres. Located in Toulouse (France) and in Washington DC (USA), these centres analyze the data and deliver them to the users (scientific community, governments, industries, etc.).