from NASA Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, Ocean ecosystem (PACE) successfully launched and achieved in Thursday February 10. The mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, at 1:33 a.m. EST to 10:33 p.m. (PST) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. About five minutes after launch, NASA confirmed that ground stations on Earth had acquired a signal from the satellite and were receiving data on its operational status and capabilities after launch. Over the next three years, the mission will monitor Earth’s ocean and atmosphere and study the effects of climate change.
Specifically, PACE was designed to study how the ocean and atmosphere exchange carbon dioxide and how microscopic particles (aerosols) in our atmosphere could drive the growth of phytoplankton in the ocean. The data it accumulates will be used to identify the extent and duration of harmful algal blooms and expand NASA’s long-term observations of our changing climate. As NASA Administrator Bill Nelson put it in an agency Press release:
“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 identify key factors impacting global warming. “Missions like this support the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate agenda and help us answer pressing questions about our changing climate.”
The satellite will make ocean measurements using its ocean color hyperspectral instrument, allowing researchers to study oceans and water masses in the visible, ultraviolet and near-infrared wavelengths. This will allow scientists to track the distribution of phytoplankton and determine which communities are present on a global daily scale from space. This will be a first for scientists and coastal resource managers, who will use the data to forecast the health of fisheries, track harmful algal blooms, and identify changes in the marine environment.
The spacecraft also carries the Hyperangular Rainbow Polarimeter 2 (HARP2), a wide-angle imaging polarimeter designed to measure aerosol and cloud particles, as well as properties of land and water surfaces; and the Spectropolarimeter for planetary exploration (SPEX), a compact remote sensing instrument to measure and characterize aerosols in the atmosphere. These will detect how sunlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere and will allow scientists to measure air quality on a local, regional and global scale.
Saying Karen St. Germain, director of the Earth Sciences Division, part of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters:
“PACE observations and scientific research will profoundly advance our understanding of the ocean’s role in the climate cycle. The value of PACE data skyrockets when we combine it with data and science from our Ocean and Surface Water Surveying mission. – marking the beginning of a new era of ocean sciences. As an open source science mission with early adopters ready to use their 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 challenges. that evolve rapidly. .”
One of the main concerns about climate change is how Earth’s oceans are affected by rising temperatures and increased air pollution. This includes rising sea levels, increased acidity, loss of habitats (such as coral reefs) and biodiversity. With PACE, scientists can study how phytoplankton populations, which play a key role in the global carbon cycle, are also affected. These organisms absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into their cellular material, powering larger global aquatic ecosystems that provide critical resources for countless species (including humans).
“It has been an honor to work with the PACE team and witness firsthand their dedication and tenacity in overcoming challenges, including the global pandemic, to make this observatory a reality,” said Marjorie Haskell, PACE program executive at NASA headquarters. “The passion and teamwork is only matched by the enthusiasm of the scientific community for the data this new satellite will provide.”
“After 20 years of thinking about this mission, it is exciting to see it finally realized and witness its launch. “I couldn’t be prouder or more grateful for our PACE team,” added Jeremy Werdell, PACE project scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “The opportunities that PACE will offer are very exciting and we will be able to use these incredible technologies in ways we have not yet anticipated. “It is truly a mission of discovery.”
Other readings: POT