NASA launches a new climate mission to study the ocean and atmosphere

NASA launches a new climate mission to study the ocean and atmosphere

NASA’s satellite mission to study ocean health, air quality and the impacts of climate change to benefit humanity successfully lifted into orbit at 1:33 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

The Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, and Ocean Ecosystem satellite, known as PACE, was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA confirmed receiving a signal from the satellite about five minutes after launch, and the spacecraft is operating as expected.

“Congratulations to the PACE team on a successful launch. “With this new addition to NASA’s fleet of Earth observation satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and oceans can determine the “Missions like this support the Biden-Harris administration’s climate agenda and help us answer pressing questions about our changing climate.”

From hundreds of miles above Earth, the PACE mission will study the impact of small, often invisible things: microscopic life in the water and microscopic particles in the air.

The satellite’s Hyperspectral Ocean Color Instrument will allow researchers to measure oceans and other bodies of water across the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared spectrum. This will enable scientists to track the distribution of phytoplankton and, for the first time from space, determine the communities of these organisms that exist on a global, daily level. Scientists and coastal resource managers can use the data to help predict the health of fisheries, track harmful algal blooms, and identify changes in the marine environment.

The spacecraft also carries two polarimeter instruments, the Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter 2 and the Planetary Exploration Spectropolarimeter. These will discover how sunlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere, providing researchers with new information about aerosol and cloud properties, as well as air quality at local, regional and global levels.

By combining the instrument with polarimetric measurements, PACE will provide insights into ocean-atmosphere interactions, and how climate change affects these interactions.

“The scientific observations and research conducted by PACE will greatly advance our knowledge of the ocean’s role in the climate cycle,” said Karen St. Germain, director of the Earth Sciences Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The value of PACE data increases dramatically when we combine it with data and science from our surface water and ocean terrain mission – Entering a new era of ocean sciences. As an open-source science mission with early adopters willing 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 meet rapidly evolving challenges. “.

“It has been an honor to work with the PACE team and to witness firsthand their dedication and perseverance in overcoming challenges, including the global pandemic, to make this observatory a reality,” said Marjorie Haskell, executive director of the PACE program at NASA Headquarters. “The passion and teamwork are matched only by the scientific community’s enthusiasm for the data this new satellite will provide.”

Earth’s oceans are responding in many ways to climate change – from sea level rise to marine heatwaves to biodiversity loss. Through PACE, researchers will be able to study the effects of climate change on phytoplankton, which play a key role in the global carbon cycle by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into their cellular materials. These tiny organisms drive larger aquatic and global ecosystems that provide vital resources for food security, recreation, and the economy.

“After 20 years of thinking about this mission, it’s exciting to finally see it come to fruition and witness its launch. I couldn’t be prouder or more appreciative of this special PACE team,” said Jeremy Werdel, PACE project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The opportunities that PACE will provide are very exciting, and we will be able to use these amazing technologies in ways we have not yet expected. “It’s really a mission of discovery.”

NASA’s Launch Services Program, headquartered at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed launch services for the mission. The PACE mission is managed by NASA Goddard, which also built and tested the spacecraft and the Ocean Color Instrument. The Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter No. 2 was designed and built by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Planetary Exploration Spectropolarimeter was developed and built by a Dutch consortium led by the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and Airbus Defense and Space. Holland.

For more information about PACE, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/pace

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Faith Mackey/Karen Fox
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600 / 240-285-5155
faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / karen.c.fox@nasa.gov

Jake Richmond
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
240-713-1618
jacob.a.richmond@nasa.gov

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