To make this website work, we log user data. By using Shephard's online services, you agree to our Privacy Policy, including cookie policy.

Open menu Search

Dstl spots 'ghost' ships with satellite-based SAR

22nd July 2021 - 13:31 GMT | by Harry Lye in London


Computer-generated image of NovaSAR-1 in orbit. (Photo: SSTL)

A UK Defence Science Technology Laboratory project is exploring how satellite-based synthetic aperture radar can be used to spot vessels that have disabled their Automatic Identification System.

Researchers at the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are accessing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capabilities on the NovaSAR satellite, designed and built by SSTL, to research how the UK armed forces can improve tracking of commercial and military vessels involved in potentially nefarious activity.

SAR allows satellites to peer through the weather to spot a ship at night or during the day. Once a vessel is located, it can be checked against other databases to see if its Automatic Identification System (AIS) is enabled.

Ships of 300t or more gross tonnage are legally required to be fitted with AIS. However, the system can be

Already have an account? Log in

Want to keep reading this article?

Read this Article

Get access to this article with a Free Basic Account

  • Original curated content, daily across air, land and naval domains
  • 1 free story per week
  • Personalised news alerts
  • Daily and weekly newsletters
Create account

Unlimited Access

Access to all our premium news as a Premium News 365 Member. Corporate subscriptions available.

  • Original curated content, daily across air, land and naval domains
  • 14-day free trial (cancel at any time)
  • Unlimited access to all published premium news
Start your free trial
Harry Lye


Harry Lye

Harry Lye was Senior Naval Reporter at Shephard Media.

Harry joined the company in 2021, …

Read full bio

Share to