What is PACE Mission?

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NASA is gearing up to enhance our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere with the upcoming Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission, scheduled for launch in early 2024.

About PACE Mission

  • The mission will employ advanced polarimeters to study the interplay of light, aerosols, and clouds, contributing to a deeper comprehension of their impact on air quality and climate.
  • The PACE mission will not only analyze aerosols but also delve into studying the color of the ocean.
  • The primary science instrument for PACE is the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) which is designed to measure the ocean’s color across a spectrum from ultraviolet to shortwave infrared.
  • It will feature two polarimeters – the Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEXone) and the Hyper Angular Research Polarimeter (HARP2).
  • These two working together will offer complementary spectral and angular sampling, polarimetric accuracy, and spatial coverage.
  • This combination aims to provide improved atmospheric correction and a comprehensive range of aerosol and cloud science data beyond what the OCI alone could achieve.
  • The synergistic payload of OCI, SPEXone and HARP2 is poised to make significant breakthroughs in aerosol-cloud-ocean research.

What are aerosols?

  • These include tiny particles like smoke, dust, and pollutants may seem inconspicuous, but they play a crucial role in influencing our climate.
  • Aerosols absorb and scatter sunlight, determining the amount of solar energy reaching Earth’s surface.

Q1) What is a polarimeter?

A polarimeter is a scientific instrument used to measure optical rotation: the angle of rotation caused by passing linearly polarized light through an optically active substance.

Source: NASA all set to launch of PACE mission to study air quality, key climate factors and more