Researchers trial system for improved sea safety

Dr Nigel Bannister from the Department of Physics and Astronomy has been trialling a concept for using satellite imagery to significantly improve the chances of locating ships and planes lost at sea - such as the missing Malaysian flight MH370.

Working in collaboration with the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency and DMC International Imaging, the preliminary study, published this month in the International Journal of Remote Sensing, has identified 54 satellites with 85 sensors – currently taking images of land - which could eventually be used to take images of the Earth’s oceans and inland waters.

The research team believe regularly updated images of the seas could enable the reduction of search areas for missing ships to just a few hundred square miles, which offers the possibility of dramatically reducing search and rescue times and significantly improving chances of survival for missing ships.

The team is now testing the concept, with the ultimate goal to develop a practical maritime monitoring system in a few years’ time.

Watch a 3D animation of the “constellation” of 58 satellites as they orbit the Earth, creating a net of imagery which can be used to track the location of traffic in the oceans and inland seas and a podcast showing Dr Nigel Bannister discussing his research below:

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