National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said on Thursday that it has successfully launched the PACE satellite, short for Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, and Ocean Ecosystem, into Earth’s orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. PACE satellite is said to expand our understanding of the planet’s oceans, atmosphere, and climate dynamics.
The satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 1:33 a.m. EST on February 8. “Congratulations to the PACE team on a successful launch. With this new addition to NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and our oceans can identify key factors impacting global warming,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Explaining the mission, NASA said PACE satellite is set to explore and quantify the intricate relationships between oceanic and atmospheric components and their collective impact on Earth’s climate. The satellite is equipped with a hyperspectral ocean color instrument, which will provide insights into the world’s oceans by measuring a wide spectrum of light. With the use of this instrument, researchers will be able to track and examine the diversity and spread of phytoplankton communities globally. PACE’s observations will assist researchers and policymakers in forecasting the health of marine ecosystems, tracking harmful algal blooms, and detecting changes in marine biodiversity.
The mission does not stop here. PACE is outfitted with two advanced polarimeter instruments, the Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 and the Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration. These tools are designed to study how sunlight interacts with atmospheric particles, offering new insights into aerosols, cloud characteristics, and air quality.
By combining these advanced instruments, PACE will unravel the intricate dance between oceans and the atmosphere, revealing how climate change disrupts this delicate balance. “As an open-source science mission with early adopters ready to use its research and data, PACE will accelerate our understanding of the Earth system and help NASA deliver actionable science, data, and practical applications to help our coastal communities and industries address rapidly evolving challenges,” said Karen St. Germain, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division.