SOCON Poster

HawkEye Ocean Color Sensor

Cloudland Instruments

PI: Alan Holmes (

Development Team:

  • Alan Holmes (Optical/Systems Engineer)
  • Craig Herrin (Senior Electronics Engineer)
  • Linda Sasaki (Senior Mechanical Engineer)
  • Carl Schueler (Calibration/Test Planning

Objectives and Benefits

Develop a miniaturized multispectral ocean color imager of SeaWiFS caliber capable of flight on a CubeSat with significantly higher spatial resolution than standard satellite systems, providing observation of sub-mesoscale variability giving insights into mixing dynamics that are poorly understood. High spatial resolution imagery would improve our ability to monitor fjords, estuaries, coral reefs and other near-shore environments where anthropogenic stresses are often most acute and where there are considerable security and commercial interests. Due to low volume, mass and cost, it would become practical to fly constellations of spacecraft, opening up opportunities to significantly improve temporal sampling. The prospect of 10s, if not 100s of very small Earth Observation spacecraft opens possibility of achieving a plethora of science, commercial and military objectives.

Proposed Work

Develop and construct and test a low-cost, multispectral, ocean color sensor with spatial characteristics comparable to SeaWiFS capable of collection of near-synoptic color data in open- ocean to coastal-margin to near-shore terrestrial environment. The sensor would have the capability of collection of the 8 SeaWiFS bands and be designed with form factor fit into a custom 3U (i.e., 3 Units or 10cm3 or 10x10x30 cm) CubeSat; have spatial resolution of 75-150 km and swath of 250-400 m in a 400 - 540 km LEO orbit. It would be built using Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) parts without higher level screening such as typically employed for longer-lived spacecraft instruments.

Preliminary Architecture: HawkEye Ocean Color Sensor