Vessel ID System (Vessel ID System) - 02.03.17
The Vessel ID System investigation demonstrates the ability of a space-based radio receiver to identify ships in the ocean. It also demonstrates the use of a simple device known as the Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing (GATOR), which can be used during a spacewalk to attach small equipment to external handrails on the International Space Station (ISS). The investigation could provide researchers an additional platform for mounting experiments while demonstrating a new means to identify ships at sea. Science Results for Everyone
The Vessel ID System, a space-based radio receiver attached to the external handrails on the space station, received as many as 400,000 ship position reports from more than 22,000 different ships in a single day. The receiver collects the raw signals, processes them, and sends them to the ground for signal quality check, which is helping to improve the ship identification and tracking system. Data help the development of an updated version of the decoder computer program, for example, and the average numbers of processed messages per day have improved, especially in the heavily-trafficked Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico, and East Asian waters. Experiment Details
OpNom: Vessel ID Sys
R.B. Olsen, Norway
T Bauna, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), Tromso, Norway
O. Helleren, Norway
A. Nordmo Skauen, Norway
T. Eriksen, Norway
S.E. Christiansen, Norway
H. Rosshaug, Norway
F. Storesund, Norway
Sponsoring Space Agency
European Space Agency (ESA)
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2010 - March 2016; March 2016 - February 2017; March 2017 - September 2017; -
Vessel ID System operations were first scheduled to operate on ISS Increment 21/22.
• The Vessel ID System investigation consists of a simple EVA compatible mechanism to accommodate small passive equipment payloads on the ISS modules equipped with standard EVA handrails, known as Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing (GATOR).
• The Vessel ID System also consists of a ship and shore broadcast system which operates in the VHF maritime band, known as the Automatic Identification System (AIS). AIS will demonstrate the space-based identification capability of maritime vessels.
The Vessel ID System tests a new mechanism that can be used to install small passive experimental payloads on the International Space Station’s exterior. The Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing (GATOR) could attach small payloads to ISS handrails, which are used by crew members during extravehicular activity. This would provide an additional space on the station to conduct passive experiments or collect data.
The Vessel ID System includes an Automatic Identification System (AIS), which can track global maritime traffic from space. Data from this ship-monitoring device could be combined with data from satellites to provide better surveillance of ships at sea. Current AIS technology is only designed to monitor vessels in coastal waters, but the Vessel Identification System will incorporate ships in open waters. It will be mounted on the European Columbus module, and could help European entities monitor ships for fishery control, search and rescue operations, maritime border control and law enforcement purposes.
Operational Requirements and Protocols
• The Vessel ID System consists of 2 external antenna assemblies with GATOR mounting accommodation and 1 internal AIS receiver.
• Installation of the Vessel ID System will take approximately 5 hours of crew time.
Decadal Survey Recommendations
Information Pending^ back to top
Eriksen T, Nordmo Skauen A, Narheim B, Helleren O, Olsen O, Olsen R. Tracking ship traffic with Space-Based AIS: Experience gained in first months of operations. Waterside Security Conference (WSS), 2010 International, Carrara, Italy; 2010 November 3-5 1-8.
Ground Based Results Publications
NASA Image: S129E007770 - Astronaut Randy Bresnik poses for a photo while working to install the Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing (GATOR) during a session of an Extravehicular Activity.
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