February 23, 2024

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How NASA's PACE mission hopes to probe the secrets of the oceans and atmosphere

How NASA's PACE mission hopes to probe the secrets of the oceans and atmosphere

NASA's PACE spacecraft is scheduled to launch early Thursday morning from Florida.

While NASA is known for observing and researching outer space, the agency also uses spacecraft to explore the frontiers here on Earth — the secrets of the world's oceans and atmosphere.

NASA's PACE spacecraft is scheduled to launch with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday at 1:33 a.m. local time after the launch was postponed from Wednesday. According to the agency.

NASA and SpaceX announced they are “withdrawing” from the mission “due to ground winds preventing pre-launch exits.” he said in an update Tuesday.

PACE stands for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and Ocean Ecosystem, and the spacecraft will be used “to collect data on clouds, aerosols and phytoplankton growth that can determine the color of the ocean,” according to NASA. Press release February 1.

“Measuring the color and quantity of light will help scientists better understand the types and locations of microscopic algae, which are vital to the health of Earth’s oceans and marine life,” the agency said. “PACE will contribute to NASA’s global satellite observations for more than 20 years of ocean biology and key measurements related to air quality and climate.”

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NASA says data from PACE will help better understand the exchange of carbon dioxide between the ocean and the atmosphere, as well as how aerosols can fuel the growth of phytoplankton on the ocean surface.

After launch, the 10.5-foot-tall spacecraft is designed to reach an orbital altitude of 676.5 kilometers (420 miles) with an inclination of 98 degrees, according to NASA. The agency hopes that PACE will rotate and collect data for three years.

NASA reports that PACE will use three instruments:

  • The Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) will measure the properties of light over parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to analyze records of ocean color data for climate studies.
  • The Spectrophotometer for Planetary Exploration Polarimeter (SPEXone) will facilitate accurate characterization of aerosols in the atmosphere by measuring sunlight reflected from the Earth's atmosphere, Earth's surface, and oceans.
  • The Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP2) will measure aerosol and cloud particles, as well as properties of land and water surfaces.
  • “It's a fascinating mission that will tell us about the health of our oceans and the quality of the air we breathe,” said Nikki Fox, NASA's science chief. ABC Chicago station WLS. “I'm very excited about the new way we will look at our planet,” Fox continued.

    “We will look at the ocean in unprecedented detail — if you think about looking at a prism, it looks like a piece of glass. But if you shine light through it, you spread that out to all the colors. Of the rainbow and that's basically what we're doing,” Fox said. “With PACE.” “We're kind of shining a light on the Earth's aquatic system and allowing us to look at it in unprecedented detail all the way from the ultraviolet to the near infrared, so we're not just looking at the fact that there's phytoplankton in the ocean, but actually at “We're able to look at the different types, some of which could be harmful to us.”

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