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Gard News 200, November 2010/January 2011

AIS tracking range is extended by satellite-based technology.

AISSat-1, the first satellite developed by Norway, was launched in July 2010. The purpose of the satellite is to improve surveillance of maritime activities in the Arctic region, through use of an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver.

Among other things, AIS allows maritime authorities to track and monitor ship movements through the operation of land-based AIS stations, which can generally receive VHF signals from ships at a distance of up to 40 nautical miles off the coast.  Norway operates a chain of 39 land-based stations along its coast, and most coastal states operate similar chains. An AIS receiver in a satellite extends the tracking range considerably.

The new technology will improve safety for vessels in Norwegian waters. It will make it easier to identify vessels and co-ordinate search and rescue operations, as well as assist in monitoring the transport of dangerous goods in the high seas.

AISSat-1 is equipped with technology developed and built by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), Kongsberg Seatex, the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Norwegian Space Centre, and is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry. The satellite's life span is estimated to be three years.

AISSat-1 has been met with interest internationally. The European Space Agency  has asked the FFI and Norwegian companies to take part in a study on a satellite-based AIS solution for the whole of Europe, while both the US and Canada have shown interest in the project.

We thank the Norwegian Space Centre for the above information.



AIS on the International Space Station

Another Norwegian AIS receiver (NORAIS), also developed by Konsgsberg Seatex and FFI, has been placed on the International Space Station. It is an experimental receiver designed to test and evaluate reception of AIS messages from low earth orbit (from the earth's surface up to an altitude of 2,000km). It will help advance the technology to be used in several new operational satellites.