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In this edition of our bi-weekly update on European research run on the International Space Station, we're taking our cue from the Living Planet Symposium – the largest conference on Earth Observation taking place this week in Milan, Italy – and focusing on our own planet.
Many of the experiments that run on the International Space Station do not require astronaut intervention after the initial setup and periodic check-ups. The Norais-2 receiver was installed outside Europe's Columbus laboratory during a spacewalk in 2015 and has been monitoring roughly 33,000 ships every day since then.
Air - Traffic - Control - System - Vehicles
Much like an air traffic control system for marine vehicles, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmits a ship's location, heading and speed over radio and is required for passenger ships and all ships above a certain weight in international waters.
Although the system was designed to be received at harbours, satellites can also receive the radio signals but interpreting the data requires some calculation. The receiver on the International Space Station is used to test satellite-based ship identification systems and improve algorithms. Global coverage of shipping would have implications for fighting piracy, ensure aquatic nature reserves are respected and help develop faster and better shipping routes that could reduce fuel consumption.
Instrument - Space - Station - SAGE-III - Line
Another active instrument on the Space Station is SAGE-III, the latest in a line of NASA satellites that monitor ozone. The Station takes only 90 minutes to circle our planet, experiencing 16 sunrises, 16 sunsets, and sometimes moonrises or moonsets, every day. This affords the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment – SAGE – a continuous view of the Sun or Moon through the atmosphere to measure the quantity of ozone, aerosols and other gases.
The device that keeps SAGE continuously pointing in...
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