Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Transportation United Kingdom Science

UK Plans Space Based Radar System 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the pings-in-space dept.
First time accepted submitter peepster84 writes "The UK government is to kick-start an innovative project to fly radar satellites around the Earth, with an initial investment of £21m. NovaSar-S would have a number of viewing modes that could enable it to perform a wide range of roles, from flood monitoring and land cover management to disaster mapping and maritime enforcement — notably ship tracking and oil spill detection."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK Plans Space Based Radar System

Comments Filter:
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:12AM (#38223614) Homepage

    This may be the answer to the Somalia pirate problem - space-based tracking.

    Now adding a moderately powerful laser, say 10KW or so...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Can they track and destroy software pirates from space?
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Ignoring the issues of powering such laser, how do you plant to pierce the atmosphere and retain enough of the energy in the beam to do more then make people wonder "what's this weird light show?"

      Also, if you think that space tracking from satellite would solve Somalia's piracy issues, you think it wouldn't have been done already? We have absolutely ridiculous spy satellite capacity, and that was one place where essentially every major nation in the world wanted for the problem to end.

      The real issue is that

      • by Splab (574204)

        Actually stepping on board and finding weapons does not make it a pirate ship; they actually need to wait around for the vessel to do something hostile before it can be called a pirate ship.

        • by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @05:48AM (#38224412)

          Considering that it's illegal to have weapons on a civilian vessel, yes it does actually. That's why when they inspect a vessel and find weapons, they usually confiscate weapons, rather then wait for an attack.

          • You think they'd want guns to defend against pirates.
          • by gripped (830310)
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            That depends on the nation under which the ship is flagged (and possibly the crew's nationalit[y|ies]). The UK was recently considering whether we should allow specific vessels flagged as British, to carry small arms when travelling through Somali waters specifically to defend against pirates, but I don't think a decision has happened yet (or it's been quietly dropped).

          • I'm just curious. Where is it illegal to have weapons on a civil vessel? Most blue water cruisers have something to deal with possible shark attacks, and they have distress flares which are rather effective short range weapons. The usual argument against arming civil vessels is that it would create an arms race with the pirates; the second one is that the bad guys are much more likely to be good at using them than ordinary mariners.

            Historical note: In Moby-Dick the Quaker-owned whaler Pequod has a whole gun

            • I'm just curious. Where is it illegal to have weapons on a civil vessel?

              For example Egypt. Which means you can't have armed guards on vessels going through the Suez canal. Which makes things more difficult. I guess the armed guards would have to rendezvous with ships after they've been through Suez and left Egyptian territorial waters.

              By the way, I don't think the fact that safety equipment could be used in extremis, at very short range as a firearm, is a reason to sanction real firearms. Better to do rational pros/cons analysis of the policy than fall into something with a thi

          • It is *not* illegal to have weapons on civilian vessels. You have to declare them when you come into port in most countries where they may be taken and put under lock and key till you leave. But otherwise you are permitted to have some pretty serious personal firepower.
            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              Most ports will simply not allow you to dock if you have weapons, unless you're a military vessel with a permit. Also, if you're not a military ship, and have weapons, you will not be able to enter Suez, which cuts down the potential reasons for sailing near Somalia quite a bit.

              • This is still incorrect. Even private vessels are allowed serious personal arsenals. I can't find the reference right now, but even in little ol NZ they size of some of these weapon caches make it to the media. It is clearly legal. Most ports simply do let you dock.

                Owning a gun does not make you military. Having a gun on a boat does not make it a navy.
                • by Luckyo (1726890)

                  There is a reason why NZ is a small country literally "on the edge of the world" in more then one sense. NZ is one of the very few exceptions here.

          • by Splab (574204)

            Really? One of the Danish shipping companies (Maersk I believe) recently started having armed guards aboard their ships; guess we are building our own little pirate fleet?

          • Legality of weapons aboard vessels varies for different countries. This applies both to the nation of registry, and the nation's territorial waters. Some nations will confiscate your boat if a weapon is found; some will require you to give them your weapons for 'safekeeping' while you are in the country (and often lose them while they are in 'safekeeping'), some don't ask, some don't care. When in international waters only the nation of registry matters - AFAIK there is no international law regarding arm

      • The real issue is that there is no way to tell a "pirate ship" from thousands of fishing vessels in the waters until you step aboard and check it for weapons.

        I bet if the position of each one was constantly tracked, and their positions, tracks and speeds were subjected to some analysis, then the pirates would look different. The fishermen will be going at an economical pace from fishing opportunity to fishing opportunity. The pirates will probably be heading more for shipping lanes, hanging about, going in for closer looks at ships etc.

        Of course if this tactic is ever used, then they'd want to keep it secret. Don't want those pirates to become too good at preten

      • I guess it could be used as a laser designator to paint the target for a bomb strike. I would imagine that such capability might be somewhat offputting to a pirate.
        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Not really. First of all, they wouldn't know of being targeted, and second, there's absolutely no problem in using a normal radar detection on these ships. These aren't military or stealthy - they're bare bones basic fishing boats.

    • by perpenso (1613749)

      This may be the answer to the Somalia pirate problem - space-based tracking. Now adding a moderately powerful laser, say 10KW or so...

      Actually just route commercial ships away from suspected pirates. Much like convoys were routed away from enemy submarines during WW2 when Ultra was up and running and decoding communications to and from the subs.

      Yeah, not nearly as fun as lasers.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        This may be the answer to the Somalia pirate problem - space-based tracking.
        Now adding a moderately powerful laser, say 10KW or so...

        Actually just route commercial ships away from suspected pirates. Much like convoys were routed away from enemy submarines during WW2 when Ultra was up and running and decoding communications to and from the subs.

        Yeah, not nearly as fun as lasers.

        If you see a Zodiac well offshore, then shine a low power laser from a drone. Let them know they have been spotted and further effort is of no use.

        • Actually just route commercial ships away from suspected pirates. Much like convoys were routed away from enemy submarines during WW2 when Ultra was up and running and decoding communications to and from the subs.

          That worked for a while. Today the Somali mother ships are operating in essentially the entire northeastern Indian Ocean, from near the coast of India to the entry to the Suez Canal and 1000 miles south along the African coast. The alternative to the Suez Canal is the Cape of Good Hope, which adds perhaps $100,000 to the cost of fuel and lost time, and can be a very dangerous piece of ocean. It more than doubles the length of the trip from India to Europe. Also, almost the entire oil production of the G

    • by loustic (1577303)
      How long before the satellites are able to send speeding ticket directly to your home? Initial investment of £21m ... huge profits !
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought one of the military treaties signed by US, NATO, Russia, etc prohibits satellite based radar because there is no way to hide stealth planes from that point of view?

    • Re:Is it allowed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:39AM (#38223734)

      The US, Japan, Canada, EU, Germany and Russia all have or had satellite based radar systems some with very high resolution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dumfrac (595394)
      There are quite a few space-borne radars. For example, TerraSAR-X, Radarsat-2.
      • by decsnake (6658)

        and TRMM and someday GPM. I think the unique angle here, other than cost, is using radar for earth resources sensing. IIRC most ER spacecraft (landsat, EO-1 etc) carry passive instruments.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      No, the treaty bans space based military action. Not that anyone is following that treaty...

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:38AM (#38223716)

    The US has SAR in orbit for military and intelligence reconnaissance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quill_(satellite) [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacrosse_(satellite) [wikipedia.org]

    So does Germany

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAR_Lupe [wikipedia.org]

  • Anyone could view the live results on a website and instantly know where all the good parties are.

  • by Jason Pollock (45537) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:40AM (#38223970) Homepage

    Canada's got two of them, with really imaginative names. :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radarsat-1 [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radarsat-2 [wikipedia.org]

  • with an initial investment of £21m

    Yeah, right.

    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

      Why the skepticism? I bet it cost £21m to come up with the name 'NovaSar-S'.

      (Nova = new, SAR = Synthetic Aperture Radar, S for satellite, maybe?)

  • I TOLD you! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @06:17AM (#38224482)
    And you all laughed. Now who's laughing at my tin foil hat? Huh?
  • If you're interestes and able to watch it - On the BBC they've just shown a programme about satellites being made by Astrium. I'm glad to say we still have the skills in the UK to get this project done.
    // As an aside I'm happy for tax money to go towards make work project to keep those skill alive; but I'd rather the tax was used for travel infrastructure. //
    But that's not the point. Watch the show. It's interesting.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00lysc9 [bbc.co.uk]
    • by decsnake (6658)

      Surry has a long history of building successful low cost spacecraft, going back into the '80s at least. Maybe farther. Google UOSAT-1

  • by Zoxed (676559)

    Why bother ? The UK already contributes to ESA, which has Envisat [esa.int]

  • The US and the Soviet Union / Russia has been flying these satellites since the 1970's, both scientific (starting with Seasat [wikipedia.org]) and military.

    • by phyr (586855)
      What's new here is that they are trying to get a constellation up very cheap (20M) and expect to get a 50:1 return on investment.
      The sensors themselves aren't that impressive and low resolution when compared to RADARSAT-2, TerraSAR-X and CosmoSkymed.

      Let's hope they fund some new work into the GPL SAR Toolbox NEST http://www.array.ca/nest [array.ca]
      • by vandamme (1893204)

        I've bought a number of scanning missions on Radarsat-1 and they weren't that expensive, a couple hundred loonies for a couple minutes (hundreds of square miles). And better resolution because it's at C band (5.2 GHz). So I dunno where they get the 50:1 return. It takes some maintenance too.

PLUG IT IN!!!

Working...