Developing a space-based global maritime surveillance and security monitoring system
The Automated Identification System (AIS) is a ship-based transponder system designed to transmit information such as vessel identity, position, heading, nature of cargo and so on to other ships and the shore. While AIS was not originally designed for detection from space, there is an identified need to develop a global maritime surveillance and security capability. An ESA Technology Research Programme (TRP) study by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), KDA and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd considered the feasibility of space-based AIS detection to monitor global ship traffic. The study has resulted in a follow-on In-Orbit Demonstration hosted aboard Columbus on the ISS, with one receiver from FFI and Kongsberg and one receiver from Luxembourg-based Luxspace. In addition, the requirements and the concept design of the TRP activity stemmed the development of a space-based AIS on-board receiver funded under the ESA GSTP programme where more advanced algorithms for AIS message detection that was originally developed internally at ESA has been further investigated and implemented. In early 2012, a Norwegian consortium led by FFI successfully upgraded the detection algorithm used in the AIS receiver hosted aboard of Columbus and demonstrated a significant improvement in vessel detection. This work has inspired ESA Telecom’s follow-on SAT-AIS activity.