NASA Awards $450M for Ocean Monitoring

NASA, representing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has awarded a contract to BAE Systems (formerly Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation) of Boulder, Colorado, to develop an instrument for analyzing ocean data as part of NOAA’s Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) satellite program. This cost-plus-award-fee contract is valued at approximately $450 million and includes the development of two flight instruments with options for additional units. The contract covers a total period of 15 years for each flight model, including 10 years of on-orbit operations and five years of on-orbit storage.

The GeoXO Ocean Color instrument (OCX) will monitor U.S. coastal waters, the exclusive economic zone, and the Great Lakes. It will observe ocean biology, chemistry, and ecology to assess ocean productivity, ecosystem changes, water quality, seafood safety, and hazards such as harmful algal blooms. With updates at least every three hours, OCX will provide a more frequent and comprehensive view of ocean and coastal conditions than currently available.

Frequent observations will reveal daily changes in ocean biology and rapid coastal ocean dynamics. The instrument will track and assist in responding to climate-driven ocean and coastal ecosystem changes, benefiting ecological forecasters, marine resource managers, fisheries, health departments, water treatment managers, and industries such as commerce, recreation, and tourism.

The contract includes tasks and deliverables for designing, analyzing, developing, fabricating, integrating, testing, verifying, and evaluating the OCX instrument; supporting its launch; maintaining ground support equipment; and supporting mission operations at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland.

The GeoXO Program, a follow-on to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites – R (GOES-R) Series Program, aims to advance Earth observations from geostationary orbit. The mission will provide vital information to address future environmental challenges in support of weather, ocean, and climate operations in the United States. The GeoXO satellite system will ensure these critical observations are in place by the early 2030s when the GOES-R Series nears the end of its operational lifetime.

NOAA and NASA will jointly oversee the development, launch, testing, and operation of all satellites in the GeoXO Program. NOAA funds and manages the program, operations, and data products, while NASA and commercial partners develop and build the instruments and spacecraft and launch the satellites.–News Desk