Norwegian Ship Tracking System in Space
Norwegian NORAIS will be tested at the international space laboratory
The Norwegian Automatic Identification System (NORAIS) is an advancement on AIS, the short range coastal traffic system used by ships and Vessel Traffic Services around the world.
AIS is required to be fitted on every seagoing vessel of 300 gross tons or more. It is both intended to help ship crews to avoid collision with other vessels and allow maritime authorities to track and monitor ship movements.
NORAIS is bound for Columbus, the European space laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS). This winter a specially constructed antennae will be brought to the ISS and fitted on the outside of Columbus. From then on, the testing of NORAIS will start.
Global sea monitoring
The goal is to take part in the development of space based AIS and global sea monitoring.
Today’s AIS allows ships to communicate with other ships and land based base stations through VHF signals. This means that it is not possible to communicate outside the field of vision.
The ISS has free vision over vast sea areas. Therefore the NORAIS can keep track of a much larger quantity of signals than the base stations on Earth.
Researchers and engineers will use the signals to improve on the methods used to separate the signals from each other. In this way, ship traffic in a large area or from a long distance, can be monitored.
The instrument is developed by Kongsberg Seatex and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) in cooperation with other partners.
Built in a year
It will be operated by FFI through the Norwegian control unit for experiments at the ISS, N-USOC in Trondheim, Norway. N-USOC will collect data from the instrument and send it to FFI every hour.
NORAIS was built in a year. The fast development phase was partly due to the construction of its twin, made for use in a satellite. This particular instrument will be situated in the Norwegian nano satellite AISSat-1, also developed by Kongsberg Seatex and FFI. AISSat-1 will perform similar measurements as NORAIS, but the data will be downloaded in real time under different conditions.
“We are looking forward to space qualify this type of AIS receiver, which will pave the way for an even more advanced AIS receiver. AIS instruments will be an important element of the ESA In-Orbit-Demonstration programme, which is important for Norway,” says Bjørn Ottar Elseth, Senior Adviser for Industry at the Norwegian Space Centre.