Earlier this year, exactEarth began operating the single largest AIS satellite constellation in the world. To emphasize the impact of that fact, we’d like to take you through a brief history of satellite technology. We know that satellite technology kick started to worldwide accolades with Sputnik I. With that singular launch of a satellite that was a metallic ball with a 58cm diameter, weighing 83.6kg, the real-life space age was born. In the 60 years that have followed, space technology has leapt to human space travel, and global communication the likes of which leave no end of the Earth unreachable. How did we get here so quickly? Through healthy competition and our love of multitasking.
How do you plot a safe course through a geographical area that changes rapidly, and dangerously? With S-AIS, of course. Maritime shipping routes through the Arctic have been a passionate discussion for centuries. Looking at a flat map of the world it’s easy to forget how close in proximity all northern countries are, but if you spin a globe and gaze down from an Arctic point of view, the distance doesn’t seem so vast. For any maritime vessel traveling through those frigid waters, ice is the number one problem. The ice that covers the Arctic is volatile; while historically it has always broken off in massive chunks to float freely and dangerously south, climate change has sped up that process, making it more challenging than ever in recent history to predict the appearance of ice flows and icebergs in waterways. Related, but a problem on its own, is that due to the restricted access explorers have had to the Arctic, topographical information is limited in comparison to most other global waterways. S-AIS can’t provide a picture of the landscape and depth of water in a traditional sense, but it can use historical data provided by the vessels that do wander through this path less traveled to create a more thorough picture.
Nor-Shipping, the top maritime shipping exhibition and conference in the world, drew an incredible global audience to Oslo this past week. This year at the exhibition, discussions focused on advanced technology for very-near-future increased efficiencies and smart shipping, but also jumped ahead to start to plan for autonomous ships and remote fleet navigation. This push for technologically advanced ship design comes with good timing as the IMO continues to strengthen emissions regulations causing ship builders the world over to open designs to great possibilities.
We’re regularly encouraged to feed off of instant gratification in every aspect of our day. You can shop for groceries online and pick your haul up on your way home from work, or have it delivered. Tap your credit or debit card to pay for almost everything, everywhere. Locate your kids through their cell phones right now with a call or GPS locator. How did we go from all day bike rides with your friends away from your parents without any form of communication to carrying a pocket-sized link to the universe on us at all times?
Topics: real-time vessel tracking
It was about 2:30 in the afternoon, October 1, 2015. Several colleagues and I were at a series of meetings with our partners at Harris Corporation in Melbourne Florida. We had been asked to provide a demonstration of what our Generation 1 satellite constellation is able to do using our web based product, ShipView. This would help Harris employees understand the value of what we will achieve together with exactViewRT powered by Harris. Peter Dorcas, Sr. Director of Business Development for exactEarth, was making the presentation to a group of about 30 Harris employees. He had ShipView projected on the big screen and was going through a fairly typical demonstration of both the exactView Generation 1 satellite AIS data and the capabilities of the ShipView product.
In 2010 the maritime world began to discover a new technology for monitoring ship movements across the world’s oceans— Satellite AIS.
exactViewRT powered by Harris will have 65 payloads onboard the Iridium NEXT constellation of satellites. After launch, each satellite is moved into its pre-assigned position relative to the other satellites. Once there, this position is maintained throughout the life of the constellation by using fuel on each satellite to make course corrections known as “station keeping”. In other words, not all orbits around the earth are equal and knowing which orbits to put your satellites in and how to keep them where you put them is fundamentally critical to providing a satellite based service. It truly is all about “Orbital Mechanics”.