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Skidaway Institute joins ocean color nanosatellite project

Alan Flurry

Researchers at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography have partnered with the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and others in an ambitious project to use a dedicated nanosatellite to study ocean color. The nanosatellite, the SeaHawk-1 CubeSat, is about the size of a loaf of bread and weighs less than 11 pounds. Launched in 2018, it has undergone extensive testing and evaluation. It is now ready to move from its testing into its operational phase:

CubeSats are a revolutionary way to study the ocean because scientists get all the advantages of satellite technology, but at a significantly reduced cost and time to design, build and launch a satellite.

“With satellites, a whole new world opens up, you have eyes anywhere in the world, including the most remote locations of the ocean,” UGA Skidaway Institute researcher Sara Rivero-Calle said. “You can take global snapshots of what is happening in the ocean, which you can’t do if you have to go out in a boat and take your samples.”

Rivero-Calle leads UGA Skidaway Institute’s efforts in the Sustained Ocean Color Observations from Nanosatellites (SOCON) program, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Rivero-Calle first became involved with the project when she was a postdoctoral fellow at UNCW, before joining the UGA Skidaway Institute faculty in 2020. She has now received a subcontract to lead the SOCON Science Program from UGA Skidaway Institute.

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Image: Artist rendering of SeaHawk-1 in orbit over Scotland.


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