UNCW’s SeaHawk-1 continues to soar, enters full commissioning

UNCW's satellite was launched in 2018 on a misison to provide ocean color data to the world
Updated: Jul. 15, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Three years after it was launched, SeaHawk-1, a CubeSat on a mission to provide high resolution ocean color data, has entered startup operations.

“They’re under a one-year contract now and they’ve told us they’re really happy with what’s going on.” Said UNCW Professor John Morrison. “It has been quite an experience working with Clyde Space on the design, construction, launch, commissioning, and now operations of SeaHawk-1.”

Clyde Space recently received an order to continue operating SeaHawk-1 for another 12-months. The satellite is operated from AAC Clyde Space’s Operations Center in Scotland with information downloaded to the NASA Wallops facility in Virginia.

“The NASA engineer that was there said “we’re getting a real strong signal from a shoe box, I don’t believe it.” and they’ve been absolutely amazed.” Morrison said.

UNCW’s SeaHawk-1 is pushing the boundaries of what was previously thought to be possible with such a tiny spacecraft. Using a compact, multi-spectral camera (HawkEye) developed by Cloudland Instruments, the images improve scientists’ understanding of the marine food chain, climate change, fisheries and pollution, in an effort to support the health and sustainability of our oceans.

Through an agreement with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, all of the imagery gathered by SeaHawk-1 will be made available free of charge via the NASA Ocean Biology Distributed Active Archive Center.

That’s really where we got NASA interested.” Morrison said. “If we could collect data this this good, I mean this with this higher resolution and good data, they were really interested in getting it out to their community.”

The satellite is expected to produce upwards of 100 images per week, with a life expectancy of 5-6 years before its orbit degrades.

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