March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination




THE CONTEXT: PACE is a NASA mission scheduled to launch no earlier than Feb. 6, 2024, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.



  • PACE is NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission, currently in the design phase of mission development.
  • It is scheduled to launch in 2024, extending and improving NASA’s over 20-year record of satellite observations of global ocean biology, aerosols (tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere), and clouds.
  • PACE will advance the assessment of ocean health by measuring the distribution of phytoplankton, tiny plants and algae that sustain the marine food web.
  • It will also continue systematic records of key atmospheric variables associated with air quality and Earth’s climate.

PACE has two fundamental science goals:

  • To extend key systematic ocean colour, aerosol, and cloud data records for Earth system and climate studies.
  • To address new and emerging science questions using its advanced instruments, surpassing the capabilities of previous and current missions.


  • Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is responsible for the principal mission elements, including the design and fabrication of the spacecraft, development of scientific instrumentation.
  • The Development Team at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) will guide PACE through each phase as the instruments, spacecraft, and observatory are built, tested, and flown.

Observatory Overview

Mass with fuel Not to exceed 1700 kg (3748 lb)
Dimensions 1.5 m x 1.5 m x 3.2 m (4.9 ft x 4.9 ft x 10.5 ft)
Power 1000 Watts
Communications S-Band – Command & Telemetry
Ka-Band – Science Data


  • The primary science instruments planned for PACE are:
    • Ocean Colour Instrument (OCI):
      • Spectrometer used to measure intensity of light over portions of the electromagnetic spectrum: ultraviolet (UV), visible, near infrared, and several shortwave infrared bands.
      • The OCI will enable continuous measurement of light at finer wavelength resolution than previous NASA ocean colour sensors, providing detailed information on our global ocean.
      • The colour of the ocean is determined by the interaction of sunlight with substances or particles present in seawater such as chlorophyll, a green photosynthetic pigment found in phytoplankton and land plants.
    • Multi-angle Polarimeters:
      • Radiometers used to measure how the oscillation of sunlight within a geometric plane – known as its polarization – is changed by passing through clouds, aerosols, and the ocean.
      • Measuring polarization states of UV-to-shortwave light at various angles provides detailed information on the atmosphere and ocean, such as particle size and composition.
    • Combined, these instruments will be a major advance in satellite observing technology, allowing for new opportunities to monitor and respond to changes in our ecosystem, and the ways in which the atmosphere and ocean interact.


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