Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Case Study: Argans - GEOInt Service for Marine Litter

General Information

  • Provider: ARGANS Ltd
  • Technology utilised: Earth Observation (EO) Navigation & Timing (PNT) Position
  • Thematic area: Environment Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations
  • End user(s): Cornwall County Council, Environment Agency
  • Website: www.argans.co.uk


  • 2018

This grant funded, feasibility study was undertaken in 2018, in response to SSGP's 2017-18 Open Call Competition.  

By gathering all available data from satellites, drones and observations provided by the citizens via a mobile app, and with help of Artificial Intelligence software, the proposed service expects to generate more accurate reporting of marine litter and create true awareness of the problem in those components of the society that can contribute to its solution. In this grant, ARGANS studied the feasibility of using data from satellites for marine litter detection and monitoring and better define the characteristics of the service to be useful for the intended users.

The project has proven the viability of using public satellites to provide information about significant accumulations of marine litter in coastal waters and riverine areas. A novel methodology based in the specific signature of litter as observed by satellite-borne optical sensors has also been introduced.

The expertise accumulated in the field, and the techniques developed for the use of space-based data within the project, have translated into support from the European Space Agency to further extend these capabilities. With the growing interest in the topic by the international community, public and private sectors, UK is now in a very good position to lead the development of new technologies supporting the remote sensing of marine litter, as well as have prime position to lead a potential future dedicated international mission.

Next Steps

For the next stage of development of the service, we propose:

(a) to explore the use of commercial satellites in areas where public ones cannot currently;

(b) to perform dedicated activities to model the behaviour of marine litter at sea;

(c) to improve observation and monitoring of litter from drones and satellites;

(d) to deploy a mobile app to support participation of citizens in the service.

(e) to complete the mapping of the risk level of littering of the coastal areas of UK.