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NASA's PACE Satellite Mission: A Milestone in Earth and Climate Science

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Anthony Raphael
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NASA's PACE Satellite Mission: A Milestone in Earth and Climate Science

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Set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA's PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) satellite mission promises to bring unprecedented advancements in Earth science. The mission's payload, equipped with advanced polarimeters and ocean color instruments, will provide scientists with the ability to observe plankton, aerosols, clouds, and ocean ecosystems in greater detail than ever before. These observations will offer valuable insights into climate change, marine health, air quality, and global warming, addressing uncertainties in climate science and improving models for future climate change projections.

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A Decade of Mission Development

NASA's PACE satellite mission, marking the culmination of nearly a decade of mission development, has navigated its way through challenges such as government shutdowns and the COVID-19 pandemic. Once in orbit, the satellite will collect data to enhance our understanding of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans, making it a significant milestone in NASA's contributions to Earth and climate science.

NASA's Prelaunch News Conference and Activities

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In anticipation of the launch, NASA hosted a prelaunch news conference to discuss the PACE mission. The event offered further information about the mission and updates that can be obtained from NASA's social media accounts. The space agency has also been hosting virtual activities to help the public better understand how the ocean and atmosphere exchange carbon dioxide, measure key atmospheric variables associated with air quality and Earth’s climate, and monitor ocean health. Members of the public were invited to register and attend the launch virtually, access curated resources, schedule changes, and mission-specific information.

Launch Details

The PACE mission is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The satellite will map out the ocean's hues and help gauge the health of oceans around the world. Once in orbit, at 420 miles above Earth, PACE will collect data on clouds, aerosols, and phytoplankton growth. The cost of the mission has increased to $948 million, but despite multiple attempts to cancel it, the mission is finally set to launch.

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Weather Forecast for the Launch

The weather forecast for the PACE mission launch is 40% favorable at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Lingering showers and storms from the weekend are expected to continue with increasing winds. The primary weather concerns are cumulus clouds, thick cloud layers, and liftoff winds. If conditions do not permit the launch, the next available launch date is Wednesday, Feb. 7, with a forecast of 60% favorable conditions.

The Long-Awaited PACE Mission

The PACE mission, 21 plus years in the making, aims to capture Earth's pulse through studying the interaction between the oceans and atmosphere. It promises to provide unprecedented detail on the health of the oceans and the quality of the air we breathe, making it an essential contribution to our understanding of Earth's climate and environment.

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