With 70% of the earth’s surface covered in water, it’s no surprise that since the dawn of time humankind has looked towards the sea as a source of food, wealth and prosperity. however it can also be unforgiving and a place of tragedy. a fact we are reminded of too often these days with migrants risking their lives to reach Europe on the Mediterranean. nowadays we rely on modern satellite technology to monitor and aid human activities at sea. satellites are the most powerful tools we have to receive information from the fast blue gaps of infrastructure which are on oceans and seas. this cannot be achieved by just one satellite that’s why we need to use the data from a fleet of satellites.
With many of these satellites being developed by ESA, the European Space Agency plays a vital role in keeping the seas safe and helping people in need. either also develops and works on AIS the automatic identifier system, this is a solution for identifying and locating vessels, which has been made mandatory by the International Maritime Organization for all big boats and passenger ships. today AIS information supplements marine radar which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport nowadays.
An example of such radar satellites are the Sentinel satellites in low Earth orbit for the EU either Copernicus program. all this satellite data has to be processed and this is done at EMSA or the European Maritime Safety Agency in Lisbon. they cross-check the AIS identification data for instance with optical satellite images and so they can see the ships that could be involved in illegal activities such as human trafficking. this data is of huge help for coast guards, as they now can target ships that try to avoid detection, but the satellites not only keep us safe at sea they also aid in protecting the seas from us. satellites even though not perfect are an invaluable tool in combating pollution such as an oil spill at sea as the seas and oceans are one of our most precious resources and we must protect them to benefit ourselves.