Satellite Observation

Satellites are comprised of two main parts: the payload (the sensor that takes the pictures) and the bus (the hardware that gets it into space and keeps it running). The capabilities of an imaging satellite depend on the sensor in the payload, but regardless most image processing is completed at the ground station with specific software. Traditionally, satellites have been prohibitively expensive and limited to militaries and the defense contractors. However, the private sector is increasingly innovating in this space creating greater commercial availability and affordability. Satellite companies typically charge a fee per image, and some have options to pay for more or less data processing based on needs and budgets. The greatest constraint on satellite data for marine enforcement is the processing delay of approximately three days from image capture to data delivery making this far from “real time” detection. Additionally, optical satellite imagery is by low return rates in which satellites cannot “follow” vessels but rather take a picture of the same area once every ten days, or month. Innovation of smaller and closer satellites, often called cube-sats or nano-sats, is greatly reducing the return rate to allow for daily pictures and closer to real time tracking of vessel movements.

Courtesy of NASA

“Pay per picture” Satellite Imagery

BlackSky Global launches and controls micro satellites that operate at mid latitudes, with the ultimate goal to speed up the delivery of satellite images to decision makers.

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Agros Satellite System

Collecte Localisation Satellites' Agros satellite-based system is a worldwide satellite platform that can be geared towards protecting fish stocks, aiding in fleet and fisheries managment, and provides ship security alert and tracking.

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The exactAIS platform offers real-time satellite automatic identification system (AIS) tracking from the data captured by the exactEarth satellite constellation and has the ability to track large fleets – perfect for tracking those distant water fishing fleets.

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Maritime Surveillance Satellite Monitoring

Airbus Defence and Space's Maritime Surveillance program is designed for commercial use, government agencies and environmental groups alike.

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Planet Labs Various Data Imagery Packages

Planet Labs has launched 100 small satellites, primarily Cube Satellites (CubeSats). The CubeSat is a 10 cubic centimeter spacecraft that uses off-the-shelf electronic components for its payload and a common deployment system, making them cheaper to launch than traditional satellites.

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SpeedCast offers telecommunication solutions, network management services, maritime communications solutions and infrastructure, equipment and applications. SeaCast is SpeedCast’s maritime broadband services for delivering real-time, unlimited usage connectivity with worldwide coverage.

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SeaStar Maps

Since 1997, Digital Globe has specifically focused on the commercial fishing industry with its program SeaStar, which provides satellite imagery on ocean conditions to help fishermen locate productive fishing grounds.

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Spire Sense

Spire, a Silicon Valley-based satellite company that specializes in radio frequency data from nanosatellites, runs Spire Sense. Spire Sense is a global maritime domain awareness service that combines its data with other partners to map out the ocean for anything from combatting illegal fishing to trade management.

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Terra Bella

Formerly Skybox, Terra Bella was acquired and renamed by Google in 2014. Terra Bella is currently building up a new small imaging satellite system to identify and help inform responses to global economic, environmental and humanitarian challenges.

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Urthecast Various data imagery packages

Urthecast offers satellite imagery and color video at multiple resolutions and with various revisit rates to provide a variety of pricing options according to customer needs.

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MANU SAN FELIX/Courtesy of National Geographic Society

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