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ISS Can Now Watch Sea Traffic From Space

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the three-letter-agencies-rejoice dept.

Transportation 89

gyrogeerloose writes "During its last mission, astronauts from the Space Shuttle Atlantis installed an Automatic Identification System antenna on the outside of the International Space Station that will allow astronauts aboard the ISS to monitor signals from the AIS transmitters mandated to be installed on most large ocean-going craft. Although these VHF signals can be monitored from the Earth's surface, their horizontal range is generally limited to about 75 km (46 mi), leaving large areas of the ocean unwatched. However, the signals easily reach the 400 km (250 mi) orbit of the ISS. The European Space Agency sees this experiment as a test platform for a future AIS-monitoring fleet of satellites that will eventually provide worldwide coverage of sea traffic."

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89 comments

Mah Dick (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337376)

is sort of like a sperm whale.

Innocuous Uses (0)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337440)

So any bets on how long it'll take them to find a nefarious use for this? Like spying on any private boats passing within x leagues of Cuba? [/paranoia]

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337566)

What about tracking somali pirates? Or take photos of the big bad cthuluish beast that eat ships at Bermuda Triangle. All will depend on what [slashdot.org] they are that day

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337616)

What about letting Somali pirates track ships more easily?

Re:Innocuous Uses (0, Troll)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337992)

Somali pirates are former fishermen who took up piracy when Western and Chinese ships began dumping toxic waste in the Gulf of Aden.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338180)

Really? Sure it's not the lack of any cohesive, effective government that can enforce its own territorial waters in order to keep vessels flagged under neighboring states from fishing in their waters? It is estimated that $300 million worth of fish are illegally caught in Somali territorial waters each year.

Re:Innocuous Uses (-1, Troll)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338444)

It's a lot of things, including foreign intervention in local politics by, dare I say it, the CIA and other western intelligence agencies. And do you really think any kind of local authority beyond that of an Israeli military state could defend their territorial waters against a Chinese ship dumping nuclear waste?

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339056)

It's a lot of things, including foreign intervention in local politics by, dare I say it, the CIA and other western intelligence agencies.

Source?

And do you really think any kind of local authority beyond that of an Israeli military state could defend their territorial waters against a Chinese ship dumping nuclear waste?

Well, the Somalia Pirates have hijaked a Chinese ship before. source [smh.com.au]

Re:Innocuous Uses (0, Troll)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339766)

You're an intelligent person. Look it up. What do I look like, a school marm? Learn to think for yourself, fella. You let other people think for you, they're gonna fill your head up with a lot of crap.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30340208)

Let me translate "Source?" for you, Winkhorst.

It means "I don't believe a word of your crap, back it up with evidence, or shut up".

Get it? Its a challenge.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344070)

There's lots of evidence. You're just too lazy or too stupid to look it up.

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30341124)

I looked over your posting history, and all I have to say is this:
http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Unwarranted_self-importance [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30344082)

They don't call you guys anonymous cowards for nothing.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30352082)

Looking over your posts, I can only summarize with this [penny-arcade.com] ... yeah, hiding behind a username is still "anonymous" enough (I don't know who you are, where you live, or what your facebook is...)

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30338208)

Somali pirates are former fishermen who took up piracy when Western and Chinese ships began dumping toxic waste in the Gulf of Aden.

That sounds so much like the situation in the Middle East in principle.

"Islamic terrorists are former citizens who took up terrorism when the West began using its intelligence agencies to overthrow their elected governments and install dictators more favorable to Western interests."

Obviously piracy is wrong and obviously terrorism is wrong. The people who do those things deserve whatever bad things happen to them as a result. Having said that, the Western governments are not blameless and do bear some responsibility for both situations. We can accept that reality or we can keep telling ourselves that they hate us for our freedoms.

Re:Innocuous Uses (0, Troll)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338390)

I don't know much about the Somalis. I do know that Al Qaida was created and bankrolled by the CIA as a response to the Soviets in Afghanistan (and secondarily as a kind of "get even" strategy for Russian actions in Vietnam), so I really don't think "some responsibility" quite covers it.

As for terrorism, you can either believe that some guy in a mountain cave engineered an operation that totally confounded the combined military defences of the United States of America or you can believe that the handlers of that guy in the cave rolled out the red carpet for that operation and not only made it possible but to a large extent made it happen.

Now there are folks here who will immediately make ad hominem attacks on any suggestion that the world according to Katie Couric isn't quite how it really is in the real world. But what an intelligent citizen has to keep in mind is that this new technology isn't going to help prevent any kind of attack any more than the technology that was already in place on 911--including a ban on box cutters!--if the powers that be see a political or monetary advantage in such an attack.

Re:Innocuous Uses (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338778)

You're absolutely correct that the mujahedeen (or however you spell that) in Afghanistan were bankrolled and given weapons by the CIA, and bin Laden's contacts within that organization became al Qaeda, and so the West definitely deserves some blame for that. However, there's no particular reason to believe that the CIA had any ongoing interest in any of them once the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan. There's certainly no evidence and no reason to believe that they actually helped plan or carry out 9/11.

The major problem with the idea that the US government had anything to do with 9/11 is that there's no credible evidence of it and there's no reason to believe their assistance would have been required to carry it out. At the heart of it, the 9/11 attack was supremely unsophisticated. All the hijackers needed was some box cutters and plane tickets, and training to fly a plane. All of these things are widely available, and anybody could have done it. The fact is, it's quite easy to believe some dude in a cave could have planned and carried it out, especially when that dude in a cave happens to be as wealthy as Osama bin Laden, heir to the bin Laden construction fortune.

I know none of that is convincing to conspiracy buffs, but the fact is a perfectly simple and plausible explanation for the event exists that requires no massive conspiracies: a highly motivated group of people did something that anyone could have done with a little time and a few thousand dollars.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339146)

Conspiracy is comforting.

It makes the believer able to not only make sense of the world, but feel religiously exalted by their special insight which elevates them above the herd. Conspiracy is much less frightening to the simple mind than an uncertain world.

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30339728)

Conspiracy is comforting.

It makes the believer able to not only make sense of the world, but feel religiously exalted by their special insight which elevates them above the herd. Conspiracy is much less frightening to the simple mind than an uncertain world.

How do you explain the thermite residue that was found after scientific analysis of the steel beams was performed? That's not something that a fuel-air bomb based on jet fuel could produce. Or the fact that other skyscrapers of similar steel-and-concrete construction have caught fire for days straight without collapsing, yet the Trade Center burned for a matter of hours and neatly imploded (including a building that was never struck by any aircraft). None of this is remotely the beginning of things that just don't add up from the point of view of the official story and the "pancake theory."

I tell you what's conforting. What's comforting is the belief that our government is legitimate, represents the people, and contains no elements within it that would perpetrate mass murder in order to increase political power in the style of the Hegelian dialectic (if you're not familiar with that, please look it up, it explains much of modern politics). The notion that a few evil men occasionally murder people is quite comforting by comparison. If you are seriously suggesting that the feeling of understanding something esoteric outweighs the feeling of living under an evil, illegitimate, deceptive government that is willing to murder its own citizens to advance its goals, I say that the burden of proof is on you. There is nothing convenient, comforting, or otherwise pleasurable about the notion of such a conspiracy. I'd prefer to believe the official story, except it doesn't add up and I refuse to lie to myself about it, so I am unable to believe it.

Now, let's assume an intellectually honest person engaged in genuine inquiry, who can set aside biases such as what he would prefer to believe, who will go wherever the facts lead him no matter what those facts may be. I submit that upon thoroughly investigating the 9/11 evidence from both the official theory and multiple alternative theories, such a person will have no choice but to concede that the official explanation doesn't add up and that 9/11 was a controlled demolition. Furthermore, the airplane that struck the building was likely an unmanned drone, of the sort that the military openly used a few years later, and not an Arab described as quite incompetent by his flight instructor who somehow performed an extremely difficult corkscrew maneuver that expert pilots would have difficulty performing. At some point, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and it's up to the individual to decide whether they have the courage to call it a duck.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

DougF (1117261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30340930)

I submit that upon thoroughly investigating the 9/11 evidence from both the official theory and multiple alternative theories...

It's been done, by numerous independent agencies, organizations, etc. They've all proved the conspiracy theories to be so much wishful thinking. If you can't figure out what a "duck" is after all the testimony, tests, and evidence presented, you will never be convinced, so neither I nor anyone could possibly present sufficient evidence or argument that would convince you differently. Frankly, the issue IS settled, only you want a few more minutes in the limelight and so refuse to accept the truth. THERE WAS, AND IS, NO CONSPIRACY, PERIOD.

Personally, I find your idea that MY government would even contemplate such actions to be reprehensible and a disservice to those who perished on the aircraft and in the towers that day, their families, and the men and women of our armed forces who are fighting the perpetrators in Afghanistan and other places throughout the world.

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30341016)

It's been done, by numerous independent agencies, organizations, etc. They've all proved the conspiracy theories to be so much wishful thinking. If you can't figure out what a "duck" is after all the testimony, tests, and evidence presented, you will never be convinced, so neither I nor anyone could possibly present sufficient evidence or argument that would convince you differently. Frankly, the issue IS settled, only you want a few more minutes in the limelight and so refuse to accept the truth. THERE WAS, AND IS, NO CONSPIRACY, PERIOD.

None of them have addressed or even mentioned the presence of thermite on the recovered steel beams. None of them address why a plane crash happens to look just like a controlled demolition, including the characteristic v-shape "dip" in the center of the building as it collapses downwards. None of them explain why the building collapsed straight downwards at a rate of speed actually faster than a free-fall from the top of the building to the ground. None of them explain why there was so much finely powdered dust immediately after the airplane hit the building, when in fact the maximum available brisance of a fuel-air bomb based on jet fuel would have caused larger chunks of debris. None of them address the intimate business connections between the Bush family and the bin Ladin construction company (run by Osama bin Ladin's brother). For that matter, none of them explain why NORAD didn't take action against the errant jets when it had about an hour or more to do so, when its normal response time to such unusual events is on the order of ten minutes based on previous performance. I could go on but I think you get the point.

Any one of those things I mentioned, in isolation, would just be a quirk or a curiosity or an anomaly. The ones I mentioned and many more like them, all taken together, can no longer be considered the product of random chance. So we have this pattern of anomalies, all of which are unaccounted for, and all of which can be explained if there was a conspiracy within the U.S. government to conduct a false-flag operation against American citizens on American soil for the purpose of expanding the power of the federal government.

By the way, it's not like there have never been attempts to do something just like this. There is a very well documented attempt of a conspiracy within the U.S. federal government to conduct a false-flag operation that involved the murder of American citizens. The basic idea was to murder American citizens, make it look like it was done by a foreign nation as an act of war, and then declare war on that nation while appearing to the media like the war was justifiable. Multiple interests would have benefitted from this. This really happened, and we lucked out because the attempt was unsuccessful. It happened in 1962 and it was called Operation Northwoods [wikipedia.org] . So please, shed your naivete and stop pretending like no such attempt has ever occurred and is therefore completely out of the question in any reasonable discussion. 9/11 succeeded where Operation Northwoods failed, and that's all there is to it. What, you thought that the ruthless willingness to do something like this to the American people disappeared entirely merely because one attempt at it failed? If so, you underestimate both the determination and the ruthlessness of these people.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343204)

OT, I know, but doesn't your theory require mods to be performed on all 220 floors and set off in a perfect sequence? And why start the sequence right where the planes hit? Why not start at floor 109 and continue to the bottom?

I ask, because it looks like the top of at least one of the buildings came down in a chunk that starts right where the airplane hit. Did they screw up the timing on the thermite? Why didn't that top part stay intact and reveal the unfired thermite pots to the world?

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343222)

Oh crap! I think I just figured it out!

The week before 9/11 a team of Mideast termite specialists came in to treat every floor, but really they were thermite specialists!

It was a conspiracy!

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30352200)

How do you explain the thermite residue that was found after scientific analysis of the steel beams was performed? That's not something that a fuel-air bomb based on jet fuel could produce.

I make thermite all the time, though not for burning; it's a side effect of a metal restoration process I use, with common household items (aluminum foil). A little aluminum and some iron oxide. The beams would have had some oxidization, and the airplane would have had aluminum. Thermite remains tend to be unburned (yeah, right) Al + Fe-oxides or burned Al2O3 + Fe, or Al2O3 + Fe-oxides (it does re-oxidize later). Thermite is an incredibly simple compound and the stuff it leaves behind is incredibly common and prone to group together when present.

Or the fact that other skyscrapers of similar steel-and-concrete construction have caught fire for days straight without collapsing, yet the Trade Center burned for a matter of hours and neatly imploded (including a building that was never struck by any aircraft).

The fire here was a very, very hot kerosene fueled fire. In case you've never experienced it, kerosene fuel burns hotter than gasoline or burning rugs or alcohol. Gasoline burns 30% hotter than alcohol, while diesel fuel oil burns 17% hotter than gasoline, and kerosene somewhat hotter than that. To complicate the matter, earlier construction used a higher grade thermal proofing wall; the higher floors used a low grade fire barrier that couldn't take the heat very well, although I suspect even Asbestos would have only lasted a few hours longer, if that.

Eventually the center support beam softened under thermal stress and buckled under the stress of holding up that ass-heavy steel-and-concrete roof. The shockwave was impressive; a good 7 buildings fell from 2 impacts IIRC.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30340410)

Kinda like religion......

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30339582)

Perhaps M$ should be included as a 9/11 co-conspirator because Flight Simulator helped train the pilots...

Re:Innocuous Uses (3, Insightful)

lepidosteus (1102443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337636)

Yes, because pirates always follow regulation and install a AIS transmitters in their "large ocean-going craft"

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337704)

Well, it would have allowed them to track the russian ship that got hijacked near Finland. Still wonder what happend with that.Could be wrong here though.

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337760)

Wait, you actually read the summary? This is Slashdot, for fuck's sake. What the hell?

Re:Innocuous Uses (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338258)

Yes, because pirates always follow regulation and install a AIS transmitters in their "large ocean-going craft"

For all of the same reasons that criminals who are willing to commit murder will always follow gun-control laws. Oh, wait...

Re:Innocuous Uses (0, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338644)

So this horse walks into a bar, and the bartender takes out a shotgun and shoots him.

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30341636)

Pirates don't install AIS transmitters. They do however use AIS receivers that provide useful information like tonnage, cargo and give a recommended course and speed for rendezvous. I suspect that if there was a commercial AIS channel they would certainly subscribe.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338738)

If you were going to go do smuggling into Cuba or whatever, you would just turn off your damn AIS transponder. Won't do shit for the radar sweeps they do. But then again, only you Americans keep this embargo up. Ship full of Canadians go near Cuba? Big deal.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338946)

Damn straight as an american where do you think i get my cuban cigars from? 20 miles from my home is a nice smoke shop in canada.

the big trick is to not be suspicious enough to draw attention of the border guard. Of course you can always travel by boat, and use a "video terminal" to check in with the border guard. It isn't like they can detain you that way. As long as you don't move large object of materials, or more than a couple of people it is a very porous border.

Re:Innocuous Uses (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339142)

I'm pretty sure most smuggling between Cuba and the US is done on small yachts that don't even have AIS. From this page [uais.org] :

IMO has made carriage of AIS mandatory in the recently revised SOLAS chapter V, for all new ships over 300 GRT, from July 1, 2002, and existing ships to follow in a tight schedule there after (see attached).

If you want to work out exactly how big a 300 GRT yacht would be, check out this Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Innocuous Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30339112)

Private boats don't have AIS transponders (typically). Although the owner could have one installed (they are no more complicated than a VHF radio that most boats/ships have - and they kind of look like one). Switching it off is as easy as turning off a TV. AIS is a convenience device for shipping companies, port/harbor personnel, and other commercial maritime industries. It is usually interfaced with the ship's electronic charting/navigation/autopilot and radar and helps the ship get an idea of the big picture by allowing the navigation team and the piloting team to see the same picture in an electronic sense. It also allows passively assists with inter-ship coordination to help prevent collisions. Lastly, large shipping companies can keep tabs on where it's ship's are w/o having to call them up.

When a ship goes down and the crew is abandoning ship/lowering life rafts, etc. the AIS system will continue to provide position and other distress info as long as it still has power. The particular AIS system I used had both a distress function and a Man-Over-Board (MOB) function.

The US and it's allies keep a relatively accurate picture of all the vessels moving around the northern Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean, Red/Persian Gulfs and Arabian Sea. Although the International Maritime Organization has mandated it's use for SHIPs over 300 tons or passenger SHIPs, boats are not required to use AIS (as anyone with a boat could tell you). Although AIS is used by the military to assist with that picture, the data AIS broadcasts is easily changed - literally you can make it say whatever you want. The navies of the world know that AIS info cannot be trusted.

Seeing large ships go by w/o any AIS data or wrong data (wrong ship name, location data that puts them hundreds of NM away, etc) was nearly as common seeing a ship with completely valid info.

Crap (5, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337444)

How long before I get pulled over for speeding in the trade lanes?

Re:Crap (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337578)

Not crap!

Think of what fun it'd be using lasers to blast pirates!

Re:Crap (0, Redundant)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338006)

While you are at it you might want to blast the ships dumping toxic waste in the Gulf of Aden. Wonder if they'll be trackable from space.

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30340482)

Nah...I'm glad they're dumping it there. That place is a shithole!

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30338008)

Not crap!

Think of what fun it'd be using lasers to blast pirates!

They already have sharks with "lasers" to attack pirates.

Re:Crap (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337770)

"Speed Limit Enforced By Spacecraft."

I can't wait to see the icon on the sign. ... not to mention the defense attorneys going for the relativistic measurement argument. "Your Honor, we would like to question the prosecution's derivation of gamma."

Re:Crap (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#30341340)

Hopefully an international treaty which would let any government police sea traffic for speed will never happen. Meantime the space antenna can help prevent collisions by setting a sea traffic control, with an early warning system for ships that get to close, it needn't be that quick, oil tankers and stopped times of the order an hour!

---

Space Craft [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Where else... (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337446)

Where else would they be watching sea traffic from?

Re:Where else... (1, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337522)

Where else would they be watching sea traffic from?

Satellite? Maybe they are trying to find a way to justify the boondoggle ISS.

Re:Where else... (1)

lepidosteus (1102443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337664)

He was obviouslyreferring to the title
ISS Can Now Watch Sea Traffic From Space

Re:Where else... (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338240)

A reason other than 'justifying' the space station would be that it is likely a lot cheaper to run a test like this on the ISS than to launch one or more test satellites that each require their own power systems, etc.

Re:Where else... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339342)

I'm skeptical. Perhaps quicker set-up turnaround, but not necessarily cheaper.

Re:Where else... (2, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30340182)

Well, it depends on how you do your accounting...

Obviously, it's more expensive to put a space station in orbit in order to test a transmitter. The idea behind ISS, though, is that we pay for it to be up there so that we can put experiments into orbit without building all of the necessary hardware for a satellite. It makes it cheaper for groups wishing to do experiments in orbit because the rest of us subsidize the orbital hardware (ie, the ISS). Because we must supply the ISS, we also subsidize getting the experiments up to the ISS (eg, We need to ship 1000 pounds of food, our rocket will carry 1500 pounds, so we've got 500 pounds that we can fill up with experiments). Because we have to bring things back from ISS (people mostly), we'll carry experiments back to Earth.

So when you include all those in your calculations, the ISS is much more expensive than launching a satellite. However, if you were doing the experiment, it's much cheaper to have the ISS (because governments have already spent the money on the platform and getting stuff up there and back). This, in theory, encourages researchers to consider these experiments because it's cheaper for them.

Re:Where else... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30340800)

The cost to put a certain weight into orbit is roughly the same regardless of payload. If it's a small payload, then usually it's batched with other objects, such as other satellites because it's cheaper to manage the launch of multiple things instead of one. The overhead of life-support and human safety systems on ISS is also a cost factor that should be considered.

Re:Where else... (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337656)

Outer space.

Re:Where else... (3, Interesting)

Winkhorst (743546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338078)

They're already watching sea traffic from space. What this does is allow them to quickly remove "legitimate" traffic from the database so they can focus on traffic that's antithetical to the Empire.

Re:Where else... (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30340446)

"The Empire" being every shipping company and country _in the world_ of course.

Protocol Issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337602)

AIS uses a distributed TDMA algorithm to assign transmission slots to ships on two different frequencies. This implicitly assumes a limited range of transmission, so the ISS will potentially see several ships transmitting in the same timeslot from widely space ships on the ocean. I don't think this resolves itself by random re-assignment in subsequent transmissions either. It will be interesting to see how successful this is in practice.

Tracking coastal AIS vessels (4, Informative)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337650)

There are several websites that show at least coastal traffic of all AIS equipped vessels. I like http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ [marinetraffic.com]

When big brother comes... (3, Funny)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337660)

He is gonna be HUGE.

Coverage map (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337662)

Here's the map of existing coverage. [marinetraffic.com] The continental US, Europe, and Japan, have full coastal coverage. The port coasts of China and Australia are covered. Beyond that, not so much.

This isn't a safety system. It's for traffic and port management. Vessels show up in the system around the time when ports need to start thinking about where to put them.

Re:Coverage map (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337804)

But with some well-placed space-based antennas, it could become a bit of a safety system too.

Re:Coverage map (2, Informative)

enosys (705759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339104)

Inaccurate.

That's just the coverage available on one particular website. (Other sites can have different data sources and different coverage.) Also, those rectangles just mean that there is some coverage within the rectangle. (Often, coverage is available around larger cities and a lot of the area is not covered.)

Furthermore, AIS is sometimes used for collision avoidance, so it is used for safety.

Re:Coverage map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30342438)

You have to remember that sites such as marinetraffic base their data on AIS receivers often belonging to private individuals that release this data to these sites. Coverage is based upon the amount of people willing to share their data, there are for pay sites which offer a much denser coverage of the world but they require a monthly fee. Often these pay sites also work with private individuals for data but instead these people get free equipment and free access to the sites.

Re:Coverage map (1)

DavidKlemke (1048264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30372246)

AIS data is also used for things like oil spills and search and rescue. When I used to work for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority we had a couple incidents where the AIS data was used to reconstruct the events leading up to the disaster (such as the pacific adventurer [amsa.gov.au] one earlier this year). They also use it to track any vessels going near the Great Barrier Reef without having a qualified pilot on board (basically someone who knows their way around the reef) so the vessel doesn't crash into anything.

I can't speak for other countries though, but in Australia we're definitely using AIS data as part of our safety programs.

No surprise really (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337670)

This is a pretty common and extremely cheap sensor to put in space. Multiple tiny satellites have demonstrated the utility of an AIS sensor in space.

In space these are mainly used to track ships who might be up to no good on open water. Also you can fuse the data with radar satellite wake detection, any detected ship with their signal turned off also might be up to no good. Canada is doing just this with M3MSat and Radarsat-2

Re:No surprise really (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30341918)

Why would a ship 'up to no good' be broadcasting AIS ? And wake detection to see if someone is up to no good doesn't seem any good either since anything under a certain size isn't even required to transmit AIS in the first place.

Hmmm...this is coming.. (1)

mace9984 (1406805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337676)

Insert obligatory foil hat quip here.

AIS from space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337680)

http://www.orbcomm.com/ais/ais.htm

As a somlian sea pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337834)

I welcome the new AIS overlords.. Booty here I come!

Why don't they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337860)

just turn the antenna's on their side if the horizontal range is so crappy?!

Re:Why don't they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337996)

Genius, because the signal will then magically curve along the horizon!

I'm pissed (2, Funny)

exsequor (1129529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30337868)

This completely screws up my plans to grow cannabis on my yacht...

Recycling urine, sweat, and bongwater (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30341046)

Well I think we've seen by now [slashdot.org] that the astronauts aboard the ISS would be cool with it.

Why ISS? (3, Interesting)

photonic (584757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338040)

Anyone knows what are the advantages of using ISS for this kind of test? I would be interested to see what it costs to send such an antenna up with the shuttle, test that it does not interfere with the rest of the station and train an astronaut to fix it to the exterior, versus just slapping it as secondary payload on some other satellite or even some dedicated micro-satellite that is piggybacking on the launch of a bigger one.

Re:Why ISS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30338134)

Anyone knows what are the advantages of using ISS for this kind of test?

I think piggybacking on the launch of a regular mission to an already existing and extensible base in space is one of the cheapest forms to get up there.

Re:Why ISS? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338476)

Only if they're also piggybacking on equipment as well. Man-rated launch vehicles are expensive. The thing that might be cheap is the bandwidth to send a file full of instructions.

The orbit? (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339012)

The ISS operates at a relatively low orbit, even for LEO... for example the Iridium constellation is about twice the ISS' altitude (760km vs 350km). They'd have to find a mission that's within the 400km range of the system, and that has room and power to spare.

Re:Why ISS? (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339188)

They we're going there anyway? In essence, they *are* just piggybacking on a bigger launch (the shuttle's primary mission). Your only cost is the EVA time, cost of the device/antenna, and the additional weight for launch.

Re:Why ISS? (1)

GPSguy (62002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30343016)

It's not cheap but the development lifecycle could well be shorter than for a secondary on an unmanned spacecraft. And, since it's VHF, I guess there's an outside chance that, instead of a dedicated antenna (which wouldn't be too hard) they could have piggybacked on the new (or the remaining old) ARISS antenna.

Packets in space isn't new by a long-shot and tracking in space isn't, really, either.

Get to the point. (0)

yamfry (1533879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338062)

How can this technology be leveraged to keep my children safe?

Re:Get to the point. (4, Funny)

Sheen (1180801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338138)

When your kids, in their rubber big sea going rubber toy rafts, see pirates / pedophiles, they can press the dolphin button, and get directly connected to an officer with the coast guard.

Re:Get to the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30340098)

The kids are sure going to be disappointed if the dolphin button gets them a human officer.

Uses? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30338136)

So is this going to be used to find the best spot to crash ISS 2 years after it is completed, just in the unlikely chance that large parts reach the ground?

Like we didn't already have this capability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30338824)

It's so cute the way folks think this is some new capability. "National assets" FTW.

Re:Like we didn't already have this capability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30339344)

More than likely there's a collective (been there, done that - years ago even) yawn amongst the folks in SPAWAR as well as in the various CIC rooms throughout the fleet. But it's sort of amusing to let people ramble on.

Proximity Warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30339352)

That should let them avoid incoming superfreighters... Whait, do we have them on space?

More on Space based AIS (1)

goatbar (661399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30340168)

AIS on the IIS is amusing, but not all that helpful. SpaceQuest, ORBCOMM, and COM DEV all have space based AIS systems up...

Re:More on Space based AIS (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30342698)

AIS on the IIS is amusing, but not all that helpful. SpaceQuest, ORBCOMM, and COM DEV all have space based AIS systems up...

Specifically, COM DEV has CanX-6 [utias-sfl.net] (also known as NTS, or Nanosatellite Tracking Ships) which has been operating on orbit for over a year now. NTS is much smaller than the ISS too, measuring in at 6.5 kg for a 20 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm cube. NTS went from bar-napkin concept to launch in just 7 months.

The UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory [utias-sfl.net] (the organization that designed and built NTS for COM DEV) is also working on a Norwegian satellite called AISSat-1 [utias-sfl.net] that is due to launch in the coming months. While the same size and roughly the same mass as NTS, AISSat-1 will offer two significant improvements -- on-board AIS signal decoding and verification, and full three-axis stabilization and control.

-Aikon

This isn't the first AIS from a spacecraft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30341540)

There are several other spacecraft that have come long before this ISS experiment that proved the concept of AIS from space; Canada has had one up for a while, several US satellites including ORBCOM provide this capability (for a fee) as well as the experimental payload on TacSat-2. Many papers have been written and presented at conferences such as the 4S Conference as well as the Utah State/AIAA Small Satellite Conference...

Next financial Crash (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 4 years ago | (#30342118)

Cool ... use it to predict the next financial crash.

Very similar to Ham Radio APRS (one feature of it) (1)

aberson (461047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30348156)

This is really cool -- Ham radio has been doing almost exactly this for years [ariss.net] .

A ground station with nothing more than a 5 Watt handheld VHF transmitter and a regular 19" long antenna can send a position report and message via a number of satellites, including the International Space Station, using a protocol called APRS. As these are low-earth orbit satellites, you generally only have a few minutes window with each pass, but it's not terribly hard to do and there are a few satellites to potentially catch position data even if you don't get every pass.

Re:Very similar to Ham Radio APRS (one feature of (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30349156)

Yeah, I've played with a GPS unit hooked up to my 2 meter mobile rig doing just that. It's cool, although in the end I decided it didn't really do enough for me to justify the hassle since it's sort of a kludge on the IC-2200H.

KJ6BSO

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