SeaHawk-1 Commissioning

As of June 21st 2021, SeaHawk-1 Cubesat outfitted with the HawkEye Ocean Color Imager has completed on-orbit “Commissioning” and is entering into a period of phased startup of “Operations"!

Hawkeye imagery will be made available free of charge via the NASA Ocean Biology Distributed Active Archive Center (OB.DAAC) on NASA’s Ocean Color Website https://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov.  In addition, NASA’s free software package for the processing, display and analysis of ocean color data known as SeaDAS (https://seadas.gsfc.nasa.gov/) has been updated to include support for HawkEye. 

 

Launch and Early Orbit (LEOP) phase

The Launch and Early Orbit (LEOP) phase was one of the steps towards declaring the satellite commissioned. The launch was one of the most exciting parts of the mission. You can read more and watch the launch video here

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After the launch and during this early commissioning phase, we track and communicate with the CubeSat and make sure that everything is working and going according to plan. LEOP is one of the most critical phases of a satellite mission. Once SeaHawk-1 CubeSat is deployed and separated from the launch vehicle, our engineers have to take control of the spacecraft and make sure that it is safe and stable in its orbit. This requires that engineers work around the clock to monitor and control all the appendages and the various subsystems of the CubeSat.

clowncarsat.jpgArtistic redention of how the cubesats in the SSO-rideshare mission were deployed in space. (Credit: Spaceflight)

SeaHawk-1 is identified on orbit!

One of the first steps towards commissioning was to obtain the beacon from SeaHawk-1 at our ground station in Glasgow, Scotland. Identifying which of the 64 objects launched in the rideshare mission was challenging, as some objects were very close to each other but we were able to hear the beacon and communicate with the CubeSat within a few hours after the launch.

thumbs-up.jpg Thanks to an exciting video conference call, our International team members shared the exact moment when we confirmed communications with SeaHawk-1 at our ground station in Glasgow, UK. This is the Operations Control room at Clyde Space.

As part of LEOPS we monitored: solar panels, antennae, battery level, tumbling rates, attitude control, nadir pointing, GPS, etc. Eventhough we performed numerous tests in the lab, this is the very first time that SeaHawk-1 is in the real environment of space, so we are still learning about the behavior of the spacecraft. Luckily for this mission, we have a replicate of the CubeSat (SeaHawk-2) in the lab that we could use to to perform additional tests and troubleshooting before we send the commands to SeaHawk-1 in orbit. SeaHawk-2 is fully operational and was built as a back up unit in case there were problems with SeaHawk-1 but instead it became an extremely useful tool for the team to perform tests in the lab before implementing any modifications to SeaHawk-1 parameters on orbit.

Seahawk-103.JPG Clyde Space engineer handling the CubeSat in their clean room. To work in the clean room you have to wear a coat, gloves and cover your hair, mouth and shoes, we do not want any dust or particles interfering!

HawkEye's first image!

This was another exciting milestone, you can read more details here. 

Once everything is stable, the next step was to turn on the sensor, start capturing images and downlinking them to our associated grounds stations in NASA Wallops (Virginia) and Fairbanks (Alaska). To downlink this data we are using X-band radio frequencies, as opposed to the UHF/VHF used for communications with the spacecraft. The data obtained is then processed, analyzed and calibrated before we distribute it to the general public.

First HawkEye Image March 2019 SeaHawk-1 first image was collected on March 21st, 2019; it was an image of coastal California. On March 22nd, it was downlinked via X-band from SeaHawk-1 CubeSat to the ground station at NASA Wallops and immediately transferred to NASA Goddard, where it was processed.  Mission Accomplished!

Declaring SeaHawk-1 Mission Commissioned

As of June 21st 2021, SeaHawk-1 Cubesat outfitted with the HawkEye Ocean Color Imager has completed on-orbit “Commissioning” and is currently entering into a period of phased startup of “Operations"!

All Hawkeye imagery will be made available free of charge via the NASA Ocean Biology Distributed Active Archive Center (OB.DAAC) on NASA’s Ocean Color Web at https://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov.  In addition, NASA’s free comprehensive software package for the processing, display and analysis of ocean color data known as SeaDAS (https://seadas.gsfc.nasa.gov/) has been also been updated to include support for HawkEye. 

You can use the link below to see exactly where SeaHawk-1 is right now. 

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