Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean

Mission Overview

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 demonstrative 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.

Read more about the instrument.

Mission Summary

HICO on the International Space Station
HREP is installed on the ISS (NASA ISS020E041979)

HICO collected over 10,000 images from around the world during its five years of operation--from 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 NASA Ocean Color website (in netCDF4 format). Note that access to HICO data from the NASA website requires an EOSDIS account.

Meet the team.

Explore some of the scientific research projects that are based on HICO data.



While HICO was in operation, all HICO data users were asked to attend an annual HICO team meeting to present their results and discuss HICO data and its uses and applications.