Benefits For Humanity: Found At Sea – NASA Benefits For Humanity Video Series

Laura Niles, International Space Station Program Science Office and Public Affairs Office, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
In the first installment of the International Space Station Benefits for Humanity video series, NASA showed how the station’s water purification technology is used to provide clean, safe water to an area plagued by a contaminated drinking source. We also met doctors who use a transformative tool in neurosurgery adapted from the station’s complex robotic arm, and we introduced the next generation of explorers inspired to learn more because of a virtual connection to the astronauts living and working in space.
[ Watch the Video: ISS Benefits For Humanity: Found At Sea ]
Now, join us on the high seas of the frigid Atlantic for a glimpse at how technology aboard the space station is working to make travel on the oceans of the world a safer place.
The Vessel-ID System investigation on the space station demonstrated the ability for an orbit-based radio receiver to track a ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) signal. The AIS signal is the marine equivalent of the air traffic control system. The Norwegian User Support and Operation Centre in Trondheim, Norway, receives the data for near-continuous evaluation. The Vessel-ID System is installed on the European Space Agency’s Columbus module.
Since being turned on in 2010, Vessel-ID has been able to relay more than 400,000 ship position reports from more than 22,000 ships in a single day, greatly advancing the ship tracking ability of coast guards around the world. This ability, coupled with multiple AIS tracking satellites launched since, is providing safer travel among the waves for thousands of ships around the globe. The ship identification and tracking system technology already aided in orienting rescue services for a lone survivor stranded in the North Sea, giving new hope to once impossible situations.
“This brought a whole new dimension to the monitoring of ship traffic on the open oceans,” said Terje Wahl, of the Norwegian Space Centre. “This project demonstrates that the International Space Station is not just for science and astronauts, but it really benefits mankind with down-to-Earth applications.”