Satellites Track the Re-floating of a Cruise Ship

This should float your boat ;-). Image hosted on

Yes, the European Union types are using satellites to monitor the re-floating of the Costa Concordia cruise ship.  This Airbus Defence & Space post notes that the satellites are involved as part of the Copernicus Emergency Management System (CEMS).  They are:  TerraSAR-X and Pleiades satellites.  TerraSAR-X is a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite that is very accurate in its “image” taking.

The Pleiades satellites are just imagery satellites tasked this time by the EU through CEMS to take some overhead images of the progress occurring as the ship gets re-floated.  Why were the satellites tasked?  Worker safety?  Making sure no reefs suddenly appear?  Monitoring for wayward ship traffic?  No, silly, the satellites are being used for pollution detection.  Yup, protecting the Mediterranean from pollution, because, you know, all those kids peeing and playing in the surf along the Italian beaches aren’t polluting the water at all.

My guess is the satellites are probably looking for oil slicks and things like that–although UAVs could do the same job for less money in this case.  More interesting is the fact that the CEMS exists.  It’s new information to me and seems to duplicate, in a few ways, the United Nations Satellite Disaster Charter, which I’ve talked about here.  Except that only European Union Members can activate the CEMS for their purposes.

If you’d like to see a before and after picture, then Astrium has this nifty little tool that allows you to drag the line left or right, on this page.

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