In September 2014 during an X-class solar storm, HICO’s computer took a severe radiation hit, from which it never recovered. Over the past several months, engineers at NRL and NASA have attempted to restart the computer and have conducted numerous tests to find alternative pathways to communicate with it. None of these attempts have been successful. So it is with great sadness that we bid a fond farewell to HICO.
Yet we rejoice that HICO performed splendidly for five years, despite being built in only 18 months from non space-hardened, commercial-off-the-shelf parts for a bargain price. Having met all its Navy goals in the first year, HICO was granted a two-year operations extension from the Office of Naval Research and then NASA stepped in to sponsor this ISS-based sensor, extending HICO’s operations another two years. All told, HICO operated for 5 years, during which it collected approximately 10,000 hyperspectral scenes of the earth.
Most of the HICO scenes taken over sites worldwide are available now, and will remain accessible to researchers through two websites: http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/ and http://hico.coas.oregonstate.edu. HICO will live on through research conducted by scientists using HICO data, especially studies exploring the complexities of the world’s coastal oceans.
What is HICO?
The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO™) is an imaging spectrometer based on the PHILLS airborne imaging spectrometers. HICO is the first spaceborne imaging spectrometer designed to sample the coastal ocean. HICO samples selected coastal regions at 90 m with full spectral coverage (380 to 960 nm sampled at 5.7 nm) and a very high signal-to-noise ratio to resolve the complexity of the coastal ocean. As a demonstration instrument, HICO was designed to collect only one 50 x 200 km scene per orbit. The regions to be collected were determined weekly by a scheduling team. The focus was on providing HICO data for scientific research on coastal zones and other regions around the world. HICO demonstrates coastal products including water clarity, bottom types, bathymetry and on-shore vegetation maps. During its five years in operation HICO collected over 10,000 scenes from around the world.
For the first three years, HICO was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research as an Innovative Naval Prototype (INP); support for the final two years was provided by NASA's International Space Station (ISS) Program.
HICO Overview March 20, 2015
HICO collected over 10,000 images during its five years of operations, from its launch on September 10, 2009 until operations ended in September 2014.
HICO was developed by The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as an Innovative Naval Prototype (INP). HICO exceeded all its objectives as an INP and continued to operate for five years. ONR also supported the first three years of operations including the development and operation of the HICO website at Oregon State University (OSU). This ONR support ended in December 2012.
With the expiration of ONR funding, NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) Program stepped in to provide funding. In addition to HICO operations (NRL) and the HICO website (OSU), this funding covered HICO data distribution from the NASA Ocean Color website.
HICO data are publicly available from both the OSU HICO website (in ENVI format) and the NASA Ocean Color website (in HDF5 format). Note that to access HICO data from the NASA website, an EOSDIS account is required.