NASA marks a turning point in Earth observation with the successful launch of the PACE satellite (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem), an ambitious initiative intended to revolutionize our understanding of our planet’s oceans and atmosphere.
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This satellite, described as a “jewel” among NASA’s Earth observation fleet, represents a deep commitment not only to exploring the mysteries of deep space but also to discovering the secrets of our own vital ecosystems.
Big budget for this satellite!
With a budget of $948 million, which encompasses launch costs, spacecraft development and operational support, The PACE satellite was designed to orbit at an altitude of 676.5 kilometers.
It is equipped with three main instruments which will monitor the health of the oceans and contribute to a better understanding of air quality and climate change.
The Ocean Color Instrument (OCI), developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will observe the extended spectrum of colors on the surface of the oceans, providing clues to the types and status of phytoplankton present.
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Complementary instruments, the Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP2) and the Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEXone), will play a crucial role in the study of interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, notably the effects of aerosols and clouds on climate dynamics.
What should we expect from the PACE mission?
The PACE mission promises to have a considerable impact beyond scientific advances.
By enabling more accurate predictions of fisheries boom and bust cycles and identifying occurrences of harmful algal blooms, it will bring direct benefits to ocean-dependent commercial and recreational industries.
Furthermore, thanks to its detailed atmospheric observations, the mission is expected to improve air quality forecasts, thereby contributing to public health and safety.
Better guide environmental policies and future strategies
As the PACE mission begins its exploration to unravel the complexities of our oceans and atmosphere, its findings are eagerly awaited to guide future environmental policies and strategies.
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By making its data freely accessible to the public, NASA ensures that the benefits of the mission benefit not only the scientific community but also decision-makers, businesses and individuals, enabling them to make informed decisions in the face of climate and environmental challenges. With PACE, we may well discover the keys to preserving the health of our planet for future generations.
The launch of PACE is therefore not only a major breakthrough for environmental science, but also a symbol of hope, lighting the way towards more sustainable and informed management of precious terrestrial ecosystems.