Radar Satellites for Maritime Surveillance

Space Norway is building MicroSAR, a radar satellite designed for monitoring large ocean areas. The initial satellite serves as a test and demonstration satellite with full operational capacity, aiming to play a crucial role in monitoring Norwegian maritime territories.

Construction of the satellite commenced in 2022, with a scheduled launch in 2026 through a SpaceX rideshare, where multiple satellites are launched together on the same carrier rocket.


Given that Norway's ocean areas are seven times larger than its landmass, the MicroSAR satellite system is tailored to efficiently monitor such vast areas. Its advanced technology provides a broad coverage area combined with the caoability to detect small targets, a unique feature not found in existing satellite systems.

The Arctic region remains Norway's key strategic focus, and MicroSAR is especially relevant for maritime surveillance, including ship traffic monitoring, combating illegal fishing, and supporting maritime rescue operations. The radar surveillance advantage lies in its ability to detect objects even in darkness and cloudy conditions within its coverage area.

While primarily serving Norwegian societal and governmental needs, the MicroSAR system will also offer maritime surveillance services in a global commercial market.

Detecting vessels without AIS

For an extended period, AIS (Automatic Identification System) has been instrumental in tracking shipping in Norwegian waters and internationally. However, not all vessels transmit correct AIS information. Satellites equipped with radar, such as MicroSAR, can detect vessels regardless of their use of AIS. MicroSAR also incorporates an AIS receiver onboard to verify AIS information.

Constructed in England

Following the signing of supplier and partner contracts in 2022, MicroSAR's construction has progressed significantly. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in the UK is responsible for building the satellite, integrating payloads provided by the Norwegian suppliers WideNorth, EIDEL, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), and Kongsberg Discovery Seatex. Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) will operate the MicroSAR T&D satellite on behalf of Space Norway.

Space Norway has initiated the planning of a constellation of MicroSAR satellites, enabling a more continuous coverage of Norwegian maritime areas. MicroSAR, under Space Norway's ownership, will remain under national control.

Facts about MicroSAR

Here are some key facts about MicroSAR:

  • Swath width: Approximately 300 km
  • Resolution: 3×3 meters across the entire imaging area
  • Orbit altitude: Approximately 600 km
  • Orbit type: Polar
  • Data: Encrypted
  • Customer: The Norwegian Armed Forces and global commercial clients

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