Coast Guard’s Polar Scout CubeSats Aid in Arctic Rescues

Polar Scout satellite (Credit: USCG)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — For decades, the dense sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been shrinking and, in some regions, disappearing altogether. This environmental change is dramatically altering areas that were once blocked by ice and creating open water that is being turned into shipping lanes for an increasing number of vessels looking for a faster route between Asia, eastern North America and Europe.

According to data from the U.S. Committee On The Marine Transportation System, the number of vessels operating in the Arctic region has increased from 52 in 2008 to 144 in 2013. The committee predicts that the Arctic Ocean will see 2,111 vessels by 2025. This rapid increase in traffic through a dynamic environment like the Arctic has made U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) missions especially challenging while underscoring the need for prompt and reliable emergency distress signal response.

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Homeland Security Launched Polar Scout Satellites Using SpaceX Falcon 9 Vehicle

WASHINGTON (DHS PR) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched two miniature cube-shaped satellites (CubeSats) into space on December 3, 2018, via the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Named Yukon and Kodiak, the CubeSats, which are approximately the size of a shoebox, neatly squeezed into a 20-ft. payload stack with 62 other small satellites (SmallSats), and began orbiting our planet.

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Coast Guard Preparing To Launch Its First Satellites

Polar Scout CubeSat (Credit: Coast Guard)

WASHINGTON (U.S. Coast Guard PR) — Two small satellites, scheduled for launch in 2018, will provide the Coast Guard with the opportunity to test the effectiveness of satellite communications in supporting Arctic search and rescue missions.

These satellites, or “cubesats,” are capable of detecting transmissions from emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), which are carried on board vessels to broadcast their position if in distress. The Coast Guard will deploy the cubesats in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s Polar Scout program, the Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Office, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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