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The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Sustained Ocean Colour Observation from Nanosatellites (SOCON) project is a collaboration between Clyde Space Ltd, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cloudland Instruments, and Goddard Space Flight Centre. The project will develop two 3U CubeSat platforms to observe the changing biology of the ocean surface and its implications for the marine food chain, climate scientists, fisheries, coastal resource managers, and oil spill responders. The goal is to develop a constellation of SeaHawks above to provide a global measurement of Ocean Color Data.

Mission Objectives

SeaHawk aims to provide data continuity following the loss of ocean colour instruments on larger platforms including MERIS and SeaWiFS. The mission will demonstrate ocean colour observation in high temporal and spatial resolution modes, through the use of a miniature ocean colour sensor, HawkEye, flown aboard a CubeSat. The final product will take two years to complete and will be 130 times smaller, 45 times lighter, with a ground resolution 7-15 times better (120 meters per pixel). SeaHawk is the CubeSat that shows that you can deliver performance that improves upon traditional spacecraft at a fraction of the cost and development time.



The SeaHawk platforms are pushing the boundaries of what was previously thought to be possible with such tiny spacecraft. The most obvious challenge throughout the design is the extremely tight physical limitations for both the payload design and CubeSat platform. The requirement to downlink data each orbit requires both the payload and transmitter to be powered for periods of every orbit places an extremely large power demand on the satellite. These challenging requirements will be met using a range of Clyde Space advanced subsystems including: the highly efficient Third Generation FlexU EPS, high-performance solar panels and a 30Wh lithium polymer battery. SeaHawk will generate an immense amount of data (around 1.1 Gigabits for the full observation sweep). In order to maximise the availability of the SeaHawk data, the Clyde Space platform will make use of an X-Band communications system which will deliver a high data rate downlink.

In order to understand the exact location of observations, SeaHawk requires accurate pointing knowledge and fine control rather than an intensely high pointing accuracy.

Successful demonstration of the SeaHawk mission will be ground breaking for both the nanosatellite and Ocean Colour communities and will prove the ability of CubeSats to achieve high-resolution optical performance, in turn enabling high-quality science missions. 

Interested in a 3U platform for your mission? See details of the Clyde Space Standard 3U platforms