Ibadan, 9 February 2024. – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched the Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite. The satellite launched into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, to study ocean health, air quality, and the effects of a changing climate for the benefit of humanity. NASA subsequently confirmed signal acquisition from the satellite about five minutes after launch.
The satellite’s hyperspectral ocean color instrument will allow researchers to measure oceans and other waterbodies across a spectrum of ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. This will enable scientists to track the distribution of phytoplankton and – for the first time from space – identify which communities of these organisms are present on daily, global scales. Scientists and coastal resource managers can consequently use the data to help forecast the health of fisheries, track harmful algal blooms, and identify changes in the marine environment.
The spacecraft also carries two polarimeter instruments, Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 and Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration. These will detect how sunlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere, giving researchers new information on atmospheric aerosols and cloud properties, as well as air quality at local, regional, and global scales. Combining the instrument and the polarimeters will enable PACE to provide insights into the interactions of the ocean and atmosphere and how a changing climate affects these interactions.
Commenting on the mission, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “With this new addition to NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and our oceans can identify key factors impacting global warming.” “Congratulations to the PACE team on a successful launch,” He also added.