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Earth Observation Services

Data from Earth Observation satellites offer a unique view of our oceans, seas, and coasts. Satellites, and their on-board sensors, provide routine, cost effective, wide area maritime surveillance. Alternatively satellites can be pointed to a targeted location for monitoring specific operations or to gather data in response to intelligence information. Satellites have access to remote areas, are independent of air traffic control and need no permission to fly, in comparison with traditional manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

Earth Observation contributes to maritime surveillance to help manage the actions and events that can have an impact on maritime safety and security, including for marine pollution, accident and disaster response, search and rescue as well as maritime border monitoring and fisheries control.
Data from Earth Observation satellites is downlinked to a network of Ground Stations, processed into images, and analysed. The images and results are then sent to the Earth Observation Data Centre at EMSA, where this information is integrated with vessel traffic and other maritime information and disseminated to users of EMSA’s Integrated Maritime Services. The Agency provides quasi-real time delivery to its end-users, which means that the time of image acquisition by satellite to delivery of a final image to end users is less than 30 minutes for radar data and 45 minutes for optical data (both depending on the size of the image).

Satellite radar images provide day and night coverage independent of fog and cloud cover. Satellite optical images, can be acquired only in daylight and cloud free conditions, but provide very high resolution colour images of ports, coastlines and specific activities at sea.

The Agency provides fast access to radar and optical satellite images, particularly in response to specific operations at sea or in support to emergencies. Earth Observation services are highly cost efficient, reliable and delivered in a user friendly format. These characteristics are extremely important considering that this information is used for coordination and support of on-scene assets, such as patrol vessels and aircraft.


CleanSeaNet Users

Copernicus Project

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Maritime Support Services

About the MSS
The Maritime Support Services Operations Centre is at the heart of EMSA’s maritime monitoring and information activities.