Satellite designed by UNCW professor launched into orbit
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A satellite designed at UNCW was launched into space Monday.
Professer John M. Morrison's nanosatellite, SeaHawk-1, will capture high resolution images of the changing biology of the ocean's surface that will give researchers access to ocean data, including the expansion of algal blooms and possibly identifying fishing zones.
“The data collected will improve our ability to monitor coastal environments where anthropogenic stresses like ‘red tides’ are often most acute,” Morrison told UNCW's website. “By making the data from the SeaHawk-1 available to everyone at no cost, our hope is that scientists will use it to address a number of critical societal needs, especially in coastal regions.”
SeaHawk-1 is expected to remain in orbit for up to three years taking pictures of Earth’s oceans. The first images from the satellite could be available by next week.
Falcon 9, a rocket designed by SpaceX to transport satellites into orbit, launched SeaHawk-1 on Monday. Morrison's satellite is the size of a loaf of bread and cost $250,000, which was funded through grant money.
“On the one hand we will be very excited that things work like they are supposed to work,” said Sara Rivero-Calle, an oceanographer and research team member on the SpaceX satellite mission who works at the Center for Marine Science at UNCW. “On the other hand, it makes me nervous because it means that my actual role in the project really starts and I’ll be more involved in this. I am very excited to share all this with the students at UNCW.”
Rivero-Calle said she hoped to hear the sound of the satellite beacon from space Monday night, which would mean it is in orbit and properly transmitting properly.
SpaceX is the first-ever reused booster and has now been launched and retrieved three times. Monday’s launch was a ride-sharing mission with 64 satellites placed on one rocket booster.
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