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ISS to get NORAIS upgrade

Astronaut working externally on the ISS Astronaut working externally on the ISS NASA

Kongsberg has reported that the NORAIS ship-detection system deployed on the International Space Station (ISS) is to be upgraded, with the NORAIS 2 system launching this week aboard the Space X vehicle.

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The system was developed in conjunction with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and is part of the Columbus AIS (COLAIS), designed to test the viability of supplementing terrestrial AIS with in-orbit AIS.

Terrestrial AIS is limited by range and experiences blind spots in the oceans.  According to Kongsberg, nearly 350 million NORAIS messages from over 142,000 ships have been routed through the system so far, with the detection percentage of vessels in the Mediterranean more than doubling.

Kongsberg says the technology will improve the safety of vessels in the open sea, simplify search and rescue, and help monitor vessels with hazardous cargo. Improvements that the NORAIS 2 will bring include enhanced signal processing and sensitivity in the receiver.

“NORAIS 2 is Kongsberg’s third generation SAT-AIS receiver and contains new hardware featuring large mass memory for digital sampling, higher sensitivity and better robustness against interferers,” says Frode Storesund, project manager, Kongsberg Seatex AS.

“The digital platform is optimised for maximising signal processing capabilities at low power and miniaturised size. This facilitates highly advanced algorithm capabilities which are prerequisite for a next generation SAT-AIS receiver.”

Konsberg and FFI have been working on space-based AIS since 2010, when the COLAIS experiment began, and Norwegian satellite AISSat-1 was launched. A second satellite, AISSat-2, was launched in July 2014.

“Together with the Norwegian satellites AISSat-1 and AISSat-2, the deployment of the NORAIS 2 demonstrates a leading range of technological solutions for space based AIS,” says Gard Ueland, president of Kongsberg Seatex AS.

“We are proud to once again have the opportunity to provide our cutting edge technology to such a prestigious project, a technology that also benefits our customers in a wide range of products in our more traditional, maritime markets.”

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