How Satellites Able To Find Shipwrecks from Space

By F.A Mollick

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Ships were the first means of intercontinental travel and they helped us to discover every corner of earth. However, ships are quite prone to unfortunate accidents and according to research, there are more than three million shipwrecks that are scatter in the oceans. Finding the remains of ships is quite a tedious work. That’s why new technology and satellites are being used to find the shipwrecks.

According to a recent journal of Archaeological science, it was explained that the wrecks produce Suspended Particulate Matter or SPM concentration signals, which can be detected by high-resolutionocean colour satellite data like NASA’s Landsat-8. These method of finding shipwrecks is very inexpensive compared to the present method acoustic and laser survey techniques.


The distinctive linear plumes of SPM extends as far as 2.5 miles downstream from shallow shipwreck sites and are easily detectable by satellites. Two ships, SS Sansip and SS Samvurn, both sank during the World War II, researchers found substantial portions of their structure unburied and could be traced downstream during ebb and flood tides.

The exposed structure of the ships, that creates scour pits around the wrecks. The scour pits acts as sources for suspended materials when the bottom current increases. This method is a welcome addition to the already existing methods, in order to locate millions of shipwrecks worldwide.

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