NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission has entered its construction and testing phase.
PACE will monitor the ocean and atmosphere when it launches in 2023, combining science and engineering advances and building off of historical ocean color sensors. It will capture fine details about plankton species, beneficial phytoplankton communities that fuel fisheries, and harmful algal blooms that poison animals and humans.
Ivona Cetinic, PACE’s project science lead for biogeochemistry, said, “With PACE we can study the role that phytoplankton play, and how different types determine the path carbon will take when it enters the ocean.”
PACE will carry two polarimeters to measure how molecules and particles in the atmosphere change the oscillation of light waves passing through them.
The Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration will be built and overseen by the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands.
The Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter #2 will be built by the Earth and Space Institute at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.