New NASA PACE Satellite to Revolutionize Understanding of Earth’s Oceans and Atmosphere

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has successfully launched a revolutionary new satellite called PACE, short for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystem, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The satellite is set to provide an unprecedented look at Earth’s microscopic marine life and tiny atmospheric particles.

The mission of the PACE satellite is to shed light on the role of aerosols and clouds, as well as phytoplankton in the ocean, as indicators for ocean health and global warming. By using three instruments, including two polarimeters and one camera, the satellite will capture data across different wavelengths of light, allowing scientists to observe things that have never been seen before.

This launch is the result of a vision that began around 20 years ago, to better understand how oceanic and atmospheric processes shape the planet, according to Jeremy Werdell, PACE project scientist. The mission is designed to last for three years, but with enough fuel to continue orbiting and studying Earth for up to 10 years.

PACE is part of a larger effort by NASA to understand the climate crisis, as 2023 was announced as the hottest year on record, contributing to the overall trend of global temperature rise over the past decade. The mission will also help scientists gain a better understanding of the exchange of carbon between the ocean and the atmosphere.

The satellite is expected to provide valuable insights into the composition and location of aerosols in the atmosphere, which in turn can contribute to bad air quality and affect Earth’s weather and climate. PACE will also play a crucial role in studying ocean biology, particularly phytoplankton, which are vital for the marine food web and the production of oxygen.

With the ability to study phytoplankton on a global scale and identify different species, including some that pose a threat to other life-forms, the PACE satellite is poised to revolutionize the study of Earth’s oceans. The observations from PACE will be critical in understanding harmful algal blooms and their impact on marine ecosystems, as well as in tracking and monitoring these blooms over time.

In conclusion, the launch of the PACE satellite marks a significant step forward in our ability to understand and address the complex environmental challenges facing our planet. With its advanced instruments and global perspective from space, PACE is set to provide unparalleled insights into the intricate processes that shape our oceans and atmosphere.