NASA prepares to ask industry to develop orbiting hyperspectral space sensors to measure ocean ecosystems

June 6, 2023
Satellite instrument will provide data for marine resource managers, fisheries, water treatment managers, and for commerce, recreation, and tourism.

GREENBELT, Md. – U.S. space agency researchers are making plans to ask industry to develop a space-based hyperspectral ultraviolet-through-infrared passive imaging radiometer to measure ocean biology, chemistry, and ecology to assess ocean productivity, ecosystem change, coast and inland water quality, and hazards like harmful alege blooms.

Officials of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center announced plans Friday to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the GeoXO Atmospheric Composition (ACX) instrument to fly on the Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) series of geostationary three-axis Earth-observation satellites.

This is a new orbiting space instrument for the GeoXO program will provide data for ecological forecasters, marine resource managers, fisheries, health departments, water treatment managers, and the commerce, recreation, and tourism industries.

ACX will track and help respond to climate-driven ocean and coastal ecosystem changes. High spatial and temporal resolution ACX observations will be an improvement over contemporary low-earth orbiting ocean color sensors, NASA officials say.

Related: NASA to release solicitation this fall for hyperspectral sensors payloads for Earth-observation satellites

From its position in geostationary orbit, ACX will view ocean and coastal conditions in real time and improve the chance of cloud-free observations of areas of interest. A draft RFP is expected in July, and a final RFP is expected in September.

Hyperspectral imaging involves slicing an image into many different spectral bands to uncover details that otherwise might be hidden. This presents a formidable digital signal processing challenge, which is compounded when the dimension of time is added.

The upcoming RFP will be for hardware for an ACX engineering development model and four flight models to launch between 2032 and 2042.

Companies interested should email their intentions to do so, as well as any technical and contractual questions, to NASA's Darlene Harkins at [email protected]. More information is online at

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