KEY POINTS

  • China could now "live stream" military activities on the other side of the planet
  • It can analyze more than 200 frames of high-definition images per second
  • It identified the carrier through gaps of clouds to provide a sharp image 

China has developed a remote sensing satellite powered by the latest artificial intelligence technology that helps the People's Liberation Army (PLA) trace the movements of U.S. aircraft carriers. 

A new study by Chinese space scientists said the technology was put into use last year in June to detect the movements of the USS Harry S. Truman. 

The satellite, which has not been named in the study, is said to have alerted Beijing with the precise coordinates of the carrier as it headed to a strait transit drill off the coast of Long Island in New York, reported South China Morning Post.

According to the study published by the domestic peer-reviewed journal Spacecraft Engineering last month, the drill held on June 17 involved a joint action of seven warships and planes beside the USS Harry S Truman. The group simulated a fight against a "powerful enemy" while passing a narrow passage of water. 

Before this satellite, the PLA had to go through a large amount of raw satellite data on the ground to get a clue about such drills happening in the U.S. home waters, and the results usually came after the event was over, the report added. But, with the AI-powered satellites, China could now "live stream" military activities or assets of interest on the other side of the planet, the report quoted the study by space scientist Yang Fang and her colleagues with DFH Satellite. 

So advanced was the satellite that it can analyze more than 200 frames of high-definition images per second. This speed is something even ground-based computers would struggle to achieve. 

The researchers added that though there were clouds over the New York region during the drill, the satellite successfully identified the carrier through the gaps of clouds with a sharp image containing so much detail that it almost ruled out the possibility of a mistake, Yang's team said in the study. The same satellite also detected and obtained the coordinates of military aircraft, naval ships and strategic assets in northeastern Australia. 

The researchers added that the satellite could increase the communication efficiency with home by a million times because the AI would remove most of the junk information that jammed the communication channels.

The development of such satellites will come in handy as the PLA now owns DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles or the "carrier-killers." But, for the weapon to be lethal, it needs accurate and up-to-date targeting data. 

According to an earlier report by The Drive, ground-based over-the-horizon radar and surveillance satellites could all potentially be used for fixing target coordinates. An AI-powered satellite that can stream targeting data in real-time can make these missiles several-fold more dangerous to U.S. carriers, keeping them away from the striking range of the Chinese mainland. Having real-time coordinates helps to target the carriers with guided missiles. 

The USS Harry Truman leaves the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia. The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departs the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to conduct sea trials in this July 7, 2012, photo. Photo: REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristina Young