Satellites to protect exclusive economic zones

The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which covers 200 miles from the coast, welcomes a large amount of natural resources in the form of fishing banks or hydrocarbons, for whose security and defense countries vital resources are deployed both at sea, in the sky and even over them.

And when we talk about custody of the EEZ we mostly think of surface means like OPV (Offshore Patrol Vessel) or maritime patrol aircraft, but satellites are a valuable asset for monitoring these vast areas. This importance is based on two main capacities: detection using radars and electro-optical sensors mounted on satellites; and the automatic ship identification systems AIS (Automatic Identification System).

The major marine expansions, and even the smaller ones of the EEZ, make the satellite-mounted radars, and synthetic aperture (SAR) ones in particular, valuable tools for monitoring the state of the ocean and what is happening in it on both night and every atmospheric Status. The systems that monitor maritime traffic via AIS beacons also make it possible to record it in almost real time and to control exploitation of fishing, rights of way or assumed oil spills, to name just a few examples. This system is based on sending information about the identity, position, speed and direction of a satellite constellation from the ships in near real time.

SAR radars, for example, make it easy to take high-resolution photos of large stretches of sea, regardless of weather conditions. The use of this information enables various applications, from border controls to secret service missions, environmental monitoring, protection of natural resources, conducting military operations to the review of international treaties, to name just a few examples. Ultimately, they are instruments for enforcing national sovereignty and for exercising control over one’s own EEZ, which, for example, serve to facilitate the levying of taxes in connection with fishing, the exploitation of hydrocarbons or transit through one’s own waters, or a right to To elevate sovereignty over these areas. often protagonists of international legal disputes.

Satellite surveillance

Various international companies provide satellite monitoring services for sea areas, including AIS systems. This is the case with the Spanish Hisdesat, which has operated the radar-equipped Paz satellite with synthetic aperture since 2018 and provides information on maritime traffic via satellite. The unfortunate Ingenio should offer high-resolution optical images from summer 2021 to complement the radar images recorded by Paz. For example, Hisdesat has been supplying satellite AIS data services to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) for years.

ExactEarth, owned by Hisdesat and a data service provider for SatelliteAIS, launched the Esail microsatlite on September 3, 2020 on board the Arianespace Vega (VV16) from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Developed as part of the ARTES project of ESA (European Space Agency) for global ship tracking, to provide advanced detection and tracking functions for high-performance ships as part of the global constellation of ExactEarth with more than 70 high-performance AIS systems. Performance automatic identification system, satellites that enable real-time monitoring of the global shipping fleet.

Track ships around the world by detecting messages broadcast over the air over AIS. As part of the SatelliteAIS constellation, ESAIL will provide data for worldwide monitoring of maritime traffic in order to make the seas safer. Other companies are gradually offering the opportunity to improve information about the maritime environment by replacing the use of satellite information in combination with other sources with maritime patrol aircraft, leaving the use of airplanes or ships for certain applications. This is the case with the proposal by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to raise awareness of the maritime situation (MSA), which, among other things, offers minimal costs compared to conventional methods of maritime surveillance.

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