Sequoia Scientific

Sequoia Receives Grant from NASA to Develop New Water Absorption Instrument

August 31, 2020

Washingtonbased Sequoia Scientific, Inc. is pleased to announce receipt of Phase I SBIR grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop new in-situ hyperspectral ocean water absorption instrument. Sequoia is the prime recipient of the grant, which also includes ocean color experts Drs. Michael Twardowski and Alberto Tonizzo as consultants. Sequoia’s Vice President of Science and Technology, Dr. Wayne Slade, will lead the development as principal investigator. The period of performance is September 2020 to March 2021. 

The planned work addresses NASA’s S1.08 Suborbital Instruments and Sensor Systems for Earth Science Measurements” solicitation subtopic. Specifically aiming to develop an absorption instrument system that can both cover the UV-Vis wavelength range while mitigating the confounding effects of fluorescence and particle scatteringThe new instrument is expected to contribute high-accuracy measurements of seawater absorption within NASA’s ship-based field campaigns supporting programs such as Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry. This will improve our understanding of ocean biogeochemical cycling and for provide ground truth optical property data for future airborne and satellite ocean color missionssuch as the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Earth-observing satellite mission. Absorption spectra are a primary inversion product of ocean color remote sensing, which can be used to infer suspended particle characteristics and linked to ocean primary production. However, the ocean science community currently lacks an in-water sensor for algorithm development and validation with acceptable accuracy and needed spectral range. Therefore, the PACE Science Team has identified this as a key technology gap related to their mission—a gap Sequoia plans to fill with novel instrumentation. 

 The funded Phase I effort will assess the feasibility of an instrument based on an integrating cavity design with broadband light source and highresolution spectral discrimination from 300 nm to the 750 nm for both light source and detector in order to mitigate the effects of scattering error and fluorescence contamination. The Phase I objective is to examine design tradeoffs using a combination of computer modeling and bench top experimentation to optimize the optical system and develop a design concept for a submersible absorption spectrometer for in-situ and lab use to be built in Phase II. 

Sequoia’s Dr. Slade states: “The award represents an excellent opportunity to collaboratively develop a next-generation in-situ absorption instrument with expertTwardowski and Tonizzo, as well as our own Vice President of Engineering, Mr. David Dana, who has extensive experience in developing a wide range of in-situ optical instruments. In total, the project team represents decades of experience in the field of ocean optics and instrumentation.” 

For further information, contact Sequoia at 

DisclaimerThe views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Government, or any agency thereof. 

See also: 

NASA 2020 SBIR Program Phase I Selections – Press ReleaseJune 30, 2020 

RELEASE: 20-069  

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