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A recently launched SpaceX rocket carries a new NASA satellite aimed at studying the ocean and atmosphere

A recent NASA climate mission, named PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Climate, ocean Ecosystem), successfully launched into orbit on Thursday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch took place at 1:33 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Shortly after launch, NASA confirmed signal acquisition from the satellite, and it is currently operating as expected. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated the PACE team on the successful launch, emphasizing the mission’s significance in advancing understanding of how atmospheric and oceanic particles contribute to global warming.

The PACE mission aims to investigate the impact of microscopic life in water and airborne particles on the environment. Equipped with a hyperspectral ocean color instrument, the satellite will enable researchers to observe oceans and water bodies across a range of wavelengths, including ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light.


See SpaceX's breathtaking launch of NASA's PACE satellite (photos) | Space
See SpaceX’s breathtaking launch of NASA’s PACE satellite (photos)

This capability will facilitate tracking of phytoplankton distribution on a global scale, a feat never before achieved from space. The data collected will aid scientists and coastal resource managers in forecasting fisheries’ health, monitoring harmful algal blooms, and detecting changes in marine environments.

Additionally, the spacecraft carries two polarimeter instruments, Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 and Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration, which will provide insights into sunlight’s interaction with atmospheric particles. This information will enhance understanding of atmospheric aerosols, cloud properties, and air quality at different geographical scales, from local to global.

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