On the move
People leave their hearth and home for several reasons and it is impossible to completely prevent migration. Migrants quite often cross borders in the most terrible of circumstances and are brought together in refugee camps where demand far exceeds the capacity with a range of problems as a consequence. Would space technology be able to alleviate some of those difficulties?
Satellite observations can be employed to detect streams of migrants or to define where illegal human trafficking is taking place. Combined with other technologies, such as drones and ground observations, it will allow authorities to take a necessary and appropriate response.
ESA’s completion of a pair of dedicated ground stations at opposite ends of Europe has enabled Galileo satellites in orbit to participate in global testing of the Cospas–Sarsat search and rescue (SAR) system. The Galileo SAR payloads can pick up UHF signals from emergency beacons aboard ships, aircraft or carried by individuals, which are then relayed to ground stations. There, the source is pinpointed and automatically passed on to a control centre, which then routes it to local authorities for rescue.
Life at a refugee camp is generally very primitive. Too many people quite often camp together in too small spaces with rudimentary hygiene services and basic food and water resources. Habitats based on space technology can be used to house families or to provide medical facilities that, together with an integrated tele-medicine system, can be used to diagnose and treat patients even under the most basic of circumstances.
ESA's extensive knowledge on energy systems has led to the development of high-efficiency solar panels that can be employed at refugee camps to provide basic energy needs. Communication satellites in combination with portable antennas can alleviate some of the distress of migrants when they find themselves separated from friends and family and do not speak the local language. Most people nowadays travel with their mobile phones and being able to reconnect with lost ones, using a translation service online, or receiving accurate information from a reliable data source can make all the difference.
Last update: 12 January 2017