Concurrent use of satellite imaging and passive acoustics for maritime domain awareness

Michael Bruno, Kil Woo Chung, Hady Salloum, Alexander Sedunov, Nikolay Sedunov, Alexander Sutin, Hans Graber, Paul Mallas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations


The research being conducted in the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR), a DHS National Center of Excellence for Port Security examines some basic science issues and emerging technologies to improve the security of ports and inland waterways, as well as coastal and offshore operations. This research follows a layered approach utilizing above water and underwater surveillance techniques. The investigated layers include satellite-based wide area surveillance; HF Radar systems providing over-the-horizon monitoring; and nearshore and harbor passive acoustic surveillance. Integration of these systems is aimed at achieving vessel detection, classification, identification, and tracking. In this paper, we present the results of sea tests where satellite imagery was combined with concurrent passive acoustic surveillance. The wide area sensing was provided by the University of Miami CSTARS facility's electro-optical (EO) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite imaging capabilities. Satellites detected the ships using a panchromatic EO sensor FormoSat-2 and SAR from the COSMO-SkyMed constellation. The Stevens Passive Acoustic System was used for detecting sound produced by the same ships that were detected by satellites. Concurrent Satellite - Acoustic measurements provide the following advantages: 1. Increasing the probability of small vessel detection and decreasing false alarms. 2. The joint systems can provide redundant detection and classification in conditions where one of the systems fails. For example, EO satellite imaging does not work at night and in fog and cloudy conditions while acoustic detection has limits during stormy weather due to ambient noise. SAR imaging can detect vessels in all weather, but provides less detail about a specific vessel. 3. Acoustics can provide target classification and bearing and satellites can give target localization and heading. SAR data can be used to estimate vessel speed in some cases. 4. Satellite imaging is helpful for the acoustic detection of an underwater target in cases when satellite information allows separation of surface and underwater targets. 5. Joint measurements provide more data (information) for target classification. Several tests were conducted in New York Harbor, where the satellite images and acoustic signatures of the same boats were recorded. The satellite registered a number of small boats. The small boats were acoustically detected at distances up to 4 km and the signal generated by a passenger ferry was observed at a distance up to 7 km.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2010 International Waterside Security Conference, WSS 2010
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Event2010 International Waterside Security Conference, WSS 2010 - Carrara, Italy
Duration: Nov 3 2010Nov 5 2010

Publication series

Name2010 International Waterside Security Conference, WSS 2010


Other2010 International Waterside Security Conference, WSS 2010


  • Acoustic sensing
  • Acoustic signature
  • Maritime security
  • Port security
  • Satellite sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering


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