Thermal Hyper-Spectral Remote Sensing


HiakaSat Flight Assembly

Under the LEONIDAS program, the HiakaSat mission was to demonstrate HSFL's capability for satellite design, launch, and operation. This supported the Office of Responsive Space (ORS) office activities for the ORS-4 launch, as well as advanced science research objectives of the University of Hawaii.

The mission's satellite, named 'HiakaSat', is a 55kg micro-satellite designed for remote sensing.  The satellite bus, as well as its primary payload (SUCHI), were designed in-house.

The Space Ultra Compact Hyperspectral Imager (SUCHI) payload is a DAPRA-funded, UH-developed, long-wave infrared hyper-spectral imaging system. The satellite includes two color cameras with both wide and narrow field-of-view lenses. These three imagers are used together to provide remote sensing data across a wide range of wavelengths and allow for co-registration and verification of data.

The HiakaSat mission was to achieve the following objectives:
» Demonstrate a cost-effective on-orbit platform for performing technology demonstrations
» Perform remote sensing with the newly designed space ultra-compact hyper-spectral imager (SUCHI)
» Perform imaging with two HSFL color cameras which are co-aligned with SUCHI
» Provide workforce development opportunities for students and recent graduates
» Further develop infrastructure for sustainable satellite development, integration and test, and operations

Workforce Development

HSFL's Current and Former Member Reunion, 2013

Incorporating the efforts from UH students as early as 2003, this mission is the evolution of the largest satellite workforce development effort that HSFL and the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium have jointly taken on. The underlying philosophy has been to "build the team to run the missions". From the time this mission concept was launched in 2009, over 30 students and interns were directly involved in the design and fabrication of the spacecraft itself, as well as more than 20 additional UH students who worked on supporting projects to analyze and test spacecraft components.

Our students have since graduated and moved on to either careers in industry and government, or have become an important part of our post-graduate workforce development programs.

Hyper-Spectral Imaging Payload


Hyper-spectral Imaging Product from SUCHI Base Technology

Developed by the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, SUCHI's hyper-spectral imaging technology produces images like the one shown here. Each pixel from the SUCHI payload will contain over 250 data points to create a series of infrared intensities for wavelengths between 8.5 to 13 microns. Information from the intensity versus wavelength can be used to identify materials, and specific wavelengths can reveal what can't be seen by the naked eye.

This important demonstration in space would validate this exciting new hyper-spectral imaging technology for future missions.

Kauai Community College Ground Station

KCC L/S-Band Dish

KCC Ground Station, L/S-Band Dish

As part of the mission, we set out to upgrade our second HSFL amateur ground station to support a high data rate downlink, higher receive sensitivities, and high power emergency commanding capability for amateur frequency satellites.

As part of this upgrade, we also integrated our COSMOS framework (NASA EPSCoR supported) into the ground station to assist ground station operations and automate satellite tracking.

Quick Satellite Specifications

Satellite Bus


HiakaSat, First Fully-Loaded Solar Panel Fit Check

  • Mass: 55kg (overall, including payloads)
  • UHF Telecommand/Telemetry: 9600bps GFSK
  • VHF Telecommand/Telemetry: 9600bps GFSK
  • S-Band Telemetry: 1.5Mbps OQPSK
  • Power Generation: 10 Body-Mounted Solar Panels
  • Energy Storage: 121WHr (BOL)
  • Power Distribution
    • 6x Battery power switches
    • 3x Regulated 12V power switches
    • 2x Regulated 6V power switches
    • OCP with 'crowbar' capability on all switches
    • Adaptive software OCP on all switches
  • Attitude Determination and Control
    • Sensors: Star tracker, 3-Axis Magnetometer, 3-axis Gyro, GPS
    • Actuators: 3x Magnetic Torque Rods, 1 Reaction Wheel
    • Software: HSFL COSMOS Multi-Agent Sensor Fusion and Control
  • Payloads
    • Space Ultra-Compact Hyperspectral Imager (SUCHI)
    • HSFL Imager Payloads (HIP, SIP)
    • Honolulu Community College Payload (HCCP)

Payload: SUCHI

Space Ultra Compact Hyperspectral Imager (SUCHI)

SUCHI Payload: A) Main SUCHI Instrument Structure, B) SUCHI Instrument Internals

Space Ultra-Compact Hyperspectral Imager

This instrument is the first version of the new hyperspectral imaging technology that has been hardened and spacecraft integrated for autonomous operation.

  • Spectrometer Type: Variable-gap Fabry-Perot Interferometer
  • Detector: 320x256 Pixel Microbolometer
  • Spectral Range: 8.5-13 microns
  • Spectral Resolution: 20 wave-numbers
  • Ground sample distance @ 400km: 230 meters
  • Swath width/length: 59km / 230km
  • Self-calibrating with temperature-controlled blackbody shutters
  • IFOV/FOV: 1mrad/10 degrees
  • F-number: f/1.2

Payload: HIP, SIP


Example Co-Registered Image from HIP, SIP, and SUCHI

HSFL/Separation Imager Payload

In addition to co-registration of imagery, HIP was intended to take color pictures of the Earth, and SIP was intended to image the separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle.  Separation imagery was originally intended to verify the condition of the Super Strypi / SPARK launch vehicle's 3rd stage, just before it deploys its 12 other satellite payloads.

  • 2x 5MP Color Cameras
  • Hardened for Launch Environment
  • Thermal Enhancements for Performance in Vacuum
  • Narrow FOV Lens Ground Sample Distance @ 400km: 33.9m
  • WideFOV Lens Ground Sample Distance @ 400km: 91.5m

Payload: HCCP

Honolulu Community College Payload

This is the first community college payload from the UH system.  The device was intended to provide additional IMU measurements for improving estimations for the main system's attitude control system.  In addition, it had an integrated camera that could take snapshots and video, and store them to an internal SD card for later downlink.

  • Built by the Honolulu Community College
  • Teensy based payload
  • 9DOF IMU
  • Modified GoPro HERO3

Mission Status

Launched: November 3rd, 2015 on the ORS-4 Super-Strypi (SPARK) Launch Vehicle

The mission has since been concluded due to launch vehicle failure.

Despite the loss of the satellite, major objectives were accomplished in workforce development, and building infrastructure for satellite technology research and development. Facilities such as satellite test beds, environmental test facilities, and a tri-band satellite control station, remain operational. These accomplishments will continue to provide enhanced educational opportunities at UH, accelerate our flight projects, and enable ongoing/future collaborative efforts.

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