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Sustained Ocean Color Observations with Nanosatellites

SeaHawk-1 Ocean Color Cubesat is Operational!

We’re excited to announce that, as of June 21, 2021, SeaHawk-1 Cubesat, which is outfitted with the HawkEye Ocean Color Imager, completed on-orbit commissioning and is entering into a period of phased startup of Operations. In addition, NASA’s free software package for the processing, display and analysis of ocean color data known as SeaDAS, has been updated to include support for HawkEye. Want to see real-time position of SeaHawk-1 satellite, projected path and trajectory, as well as the estimated date and time overflying ground stations in Scotland, NASA Wallops, Alaska, Svalbard? Use the link below!

Design and Construction of SeaHawk Satellite Bus and HawkEye Ocean Color Sensor

In early January 2015, a team of scientists and engineers from University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cloudland Instruments of Santa Barbara, CA, Clyde Space of Glasgow, UK, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, led by UNCW Professor John M. Morrison, received funds from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop a proof-of-concept satellite mission "to demonstrate capability to construct low-cost autonomous nanosatellites to provide sustained, high spatial resolution and temporal resolution information about the surface ocean processes."

The "science dream team" is composed of investigators that have been involved in the forefront of ocean color remote sensing since its inception 30+ years ago.

Program review in 2017 determined that the design, and construction of two 3U Satellites --- SeaHawk-1 and SeaHawk-2, outfitted with HawkEye Ocean Color Sensors, were nearing launch readiness.

SeaHawk Ocean Color Satellite Launch and Proof-of-Concept Operations

In June 2017, we entered into Phase 2 of the program, “support one-year, proof-of-concept SeaHawk/HawkEye Missions for each of the satellites including: management; preparation, pre-launch testing and launch; satellite telemetry, tracking, and command; data downlink; data processing, calibration, distribution and storage; and, in situ vicarious calibration,” from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

SeaHawk-1 Ocean Color Cubesat, outfitted with HawkEye Ocean Color Sensors was launched on December 3rd, 2018 aboard the SpaceX Spaceflight SSA-O SmallSat Express ( using a Falcon IX booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. SeaHawk-1 with the HawkEye-1 Ocean Color Sensor was featured out of 64 satellites aboard the rideshare mission. The satellite was integrated into the launch module in Seattle, Washington, in early October 2018 and transported to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, in late October 2018. For more details on this go to our launch page.

On June 21st, 2021, SeaHawk-1 Cubesat outfitted with the HawkEye Ocean Color Imager completed on-orbit "Commissioning" and entered into a period of phased startup of "Operations".

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came. 
John F. Kennedy 

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