A Direct and Fast Methodology for Ship Recognition in Sentinel-2 Multispectral Imagery

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The European Space Agency satellite Sentinel-2 provides multispectral images with pixel sizes down to 10 m. This high resolution allows for ship detection and recognition by determining a number of important ship parameters. We are able to show how a ship position, its heading, length and breadth can be determined down to a subpixel resolution. If the ship is moving, its velocity can also be determined from its Kelvin waves. The 13 spectrally different visual and infrared images taken using multispectral imagery (MSI) are “fingerprints” that allow for the recognition and identification of ships. Furthermore, the multispectral image profiles along the ship allow for discrimination between the ship, its turbulent wakes, and the Kelvin waves, such that the ship’s length and breadth can be determined more accurately even when sailing. The ship’s parameters are determined by using satellite imagery taken from several ships, which are then compared to known values from the automatic identification system. The agreement is on the order of the pixel resolution or better.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1033
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number12
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Open Access article


  • Sentinel-2
  • Multispectral
  • Ship
  • Recognition
  • Identification
  • Turbulent wake
  • Kelvin waves

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