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I am designing a CubeSat. The size is yet to be decided as it is based on the sensor. The mission is maritime surveillance (illegal fishing). The payload should be capable of detecting the vessels. The operation should not be interrupted by the time of the day (Meaning, the payload detection capability should be active both during day & night). It should not be interrupted by the weather. Based on these constraints, the only options for the sensor are an active optical sensor or the SAR sensor. I cannot go with a SAR sensor as my orbit is a circular 12-degree inclined LEO orbit and so it will go through ~45 minutes of eclipse each orbit making continuous solar power impossible. Is there any laser sensor that I can use for this purpose? Or any other optical sensor that would be suitable here? Kindly please advise.

EDIT:

This is my course project however, I need to design it using the realtime subsystems/payloads.

Thanks everyone for the response. Some of the points I would like to highlight here. uuv & Leonardo are based on AIS data. We have been intrigued about what if the AIS radio on the boat/ship is turned off as they intend to do illegal fishing.

Also, with respect to my project, my satellite sensor intends to do only the surveillance on the particular region of the sea. So, If I use the ADCS attitude sensors, would I have the ability to turn on SAR only for the region needed and when the satellite went past that area if the SAR sensor is turned off, can the power be an issue?? Can this (SAR sensor turn ON/OFF) be even done?

Also, this is not a single satellite. I am designing a 3 x constellation of satellites to assess that particular area for better coverage and decent revisit rate.

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    $\begingroup$ Possible worth mentioning if this is a course project or a serious proposal? The former can use blue sky tech, the later will restrict you to things that actually exist and your launch provider will accept. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 '21 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ Worth noting that continuous SAR operation is not practical even in SSO, for instance RCM can only use its SAR for ~20% of the time per orbit. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 '21 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @BrendanLuke15 the application for this particular satellite might simply be detection of the presence of a ship, not necessarily imaging it at 1 x 3 meter resolution. Once a ship is noticed that does not have its ears on they just call Leonardo DiCaprio to investigate (maybe with a bigger SAR system or a coast guard) usa.oceana.org/IUUVesselTracker $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 25 '21 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @geetha this is a great question! I am wondering if you need to rule out SAR so quickly. As mentioned above, perhaps you only need to detect ships and not really image them at high resolution. That may be doable with a lot less power, and therefore with battery power instead of needing continuous sunlight. SAR (and radio in general) goes through clouds and light simply does not. I think you may have to find a way to make lower power, lower resolution SAR work as a ship detector but not imager, and then ground software can compare to AIS or IUU $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 25 '21 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ just for fun, some images of ships in the Suez Canal when it was blocked $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 25 '21 at 17:21
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This is not an answer, but additional information on sea fishing and observation from space.

One of the projects that the cosmonauts were engaged in at the Mir orbital station was the observation of plankton on the surface of the ocean. Сosmonauts tracked large yellow spots on the surface of the oceans - an accumulation of plankton, near which there are usually many shoal of fish. And they passed this information to fishing ships.

Thus, ships in the plankton area are most likely to be fishing vessels.

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