Norway’s new satellite detects radar signals from ships

(29 April 2021 – Norwegian House Company) The brand new Norwegian satellite tv for pc NorSat-3, launched efficiently on the 29th of April 2021, will enhance monitoring ship site visitors from house.

NorSat-Three will contribute to keep up Norway’s constellation of satellites for monitoring maritime site visitors. The beforehand launched 4 microsatellites of this constellation have all exceeded their life expectancy in house.

The brand new Norwegian satellite tv for pc launched efficiently from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guyana at 03.50 Central European Time on the 29th of April 2021.

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NorSat-Three was launched on the 29th April 2021. (courtesy: Norwegian House Company)

NorSat-Three is a brand new microsatellite which, equally to its predecessors, is provided with an AIS receiver to detect alerts from ships at sea.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration collects AIS information from base stations alongside the Norwegian coast and by way of the Norwegian microsatellites orbiting the Earth. Thus, the Norwegian Coastal Administration can monitor and management the ship site visitors alongside the coast of Norway and in Norway’s intensive marine waters.

Detecting radar alerts

Nevertheless, AIS alerts alone could not give an view of maritime site visitors. Army vessels will not be obliged to make use of AIS, and technical errors, interference, sign manipulation and AIS transponders which were switched off are potential drawback areas. Together with alerts from navigation radars will contribute to creating the situational picture extra .

NorSat-Three is extra superior than its predecessors, as a result of along with the AIS receiver, it carries an experimental navigation radar detector (NRD). The NRD is primarily a expertise demonstrator, however may even contribute to a extra complete picture of the site visitors at sea.

This new payload will detect ships by detecting and finding alerts from civilian navigation radars. Thus, the Norwegian Coastal Administration will be capable of confirm the AIS data and detect ships that aren’t emitting AIS alerts.

“The Norwegian maritime authorities have by no means had a extra complete view of the ship site visitors in Norwegian waters, round Svalbard, and in the remainder of the Arctic, together with the Northeast Passage,” says Arve Dimmen, Director for navigation expertise and maritime providers on the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

“AIS information is a key instrument for the Norwegian Coastal Administration to observe and management vessel site visitors to extend security at sea. Our AIS satellites have to be changed usually with a purpose to keep this capacity to observe ship site visitors in Norwegian waters sooner or later. All 4 different Norwegian microsatellites in orbit have already surpasses their minimal anticipated lifespan. That is why NorSat-Three is so essential,” says Dimmen.

Protecting Norwegian waters

Furthermore, the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Centres must rapidly establish and ships in emergency, and close by ships that may help with search and rescue. The Norwegian Fisheries Directorate makes use of maritime surveillance to regulate fishing actions and detect ships which are transferring catches at sea.

“Norway has been a pioneer in utilizing small satellites to satisfy essential societal wants, significantly in maritime surveillance,” says Lene Marthinsen, mission supervisor for satellites on the Norwegian House Company.

“Along with UTIAS that developed the satellite tv for pc bus, we now have aimed for a microspace philosophy, which permits for more economical and quicker growth, contains the intensive use of economic off-the-shelf elements, and a considerably completely different check routine than in conventional satellite tv for pc packages,” Marthinsen says.

Difficult growth

The Norwegian Coastal Administration is the proprietor of NorSat-3, with the Norwegian House Company managing the mission. The NRD antenna and receiver have been provided by the FFI and developed in cooperation with Kongsberg Seatex, the French house company CNES and the German producer Ilfa.

“The event of the NRD instrument has been a difficult job, with contributions from a number of areas of competency at FFI,” says Richard B. Olsen, head of analysis at FFI.

Olsen provides that the mission is a part of the event of Norway’s nationwide house capabilities in line with the long run plans of the Norwegian protection sector.

“An improved situational consciousness within the north is a vital a part of these plans, and the NRD instrument demonstrates expertise that’s promising for such functions. The launch of NorSat-Three is a vital milestone, and we at the moment are wanting ahead to amassing information for experimentation, analysis and future operations along with the Norwegian navy, the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Norwegian House Company,” Olsen says.


NorSat-Three carries two payloads: An AIS receiver ASR x50 and a navigational radar detector. The satelltte measures 42 x 20 x 27 centimeters and weighs 16,5 kilos. NorSat-Three is positioned in a polar orbit 605 kilometers above the Earth.

The event of NorSat-Three has price 80 million Norwegian kroner. Of this sum, NOK 30 million has been financed by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, together with the satellite tv for pc itself, the launch and the AIS sensor.

The remaining NOK 50 million are financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence and contains primarily the event of the navigation radar detector. The worth tag for the satellite tv for pc is small for the house sector, and thus the Norwegian developed microsatellites garner worldwide consideration.

The satellite tv for pc bus for NorSat-Three has been developed and built-in by the College of Toronto Institute of Aerospace – House Flight Laboratory (UTIAS-SFL) and shall be operated by Statsat AS in Oslo.


AIS is an computerized identification system launched by UN’s Worldwide Marine Group to extend maritime security for each ships and the surroundings, and to enhance regulation and monitoring of ship site visitors.

AIS transponders in ships emit details about the vessel’s identification, place, velocity and bearing. These information are obtained by the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s land primarily based AIS chain, referred to as AIS Norway, consisting of 50 base stations alongside the coast. AIS alerts are additionally detected by the Norwegian nationwide satellites AISSat-1 and -2, in addition to NorSat-1, -2 and -3.

The satellites ahead the knowledge to the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s floor in Vardø. Right here, the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s heart for maritime site visitors makes use of the satellite tv for pc information to observe Norwegian waters. Moreover, the Norwegian Coastal Administration share the AIS information with a number of Norwegian companies with operational duties at sea.

The Norwegian microsatellites

AISSat-1, Norway’s first nationwide microsatellite, was launched on the of July 2010 from India. AISSat-1 weighs 6 kilos and measures 20 x 20 x 20 centimeters.

This satellite tv for pc was primarily meant as a expertise demonstrator to indicate that it was potential to obtain AIS alerts in orbit, however the satellite tv for pc functioned so properly that it’s right this moment an operational satellite tv for pc. The success with AISSat-1 led to the event of a twin satellite tv for pc, AISSat-2, launched on the eighth of July 2014. A 3rd twin, AISSat-3, was sadly misplaced throughout a launch from Russia in November 2017.

The NorSat satellites carry superior AIS receivers, in addition to extra payloads:

NorSat-1 carries a Swiss instrument for photo voltaic analysis and a Norwegian Langmuir probe for analysis on the aurora borealis. NorSat-2 checks VDES – a brand new worldwide commonplace for 2 approach communication at sea. Each these satellites have been launched on the 14th of July 2017.

All 4 nationwide Norwegian microsatellites have handed their minimal life expectancy. They are going to be changed by new microsatellites which are at present in planning.

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