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NASA PACE: Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem. And a new frontier in atmospheric chemistry.

Today is Friday, February 23, 2024.


Have you heard about PACE, the most recent satellite from NASA to reach space?


Launched last Feb. 8, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, it will monitor tiny particles in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. And as such, seek to elucidate another significant uncertainties in climate science.


PACE stands for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem.


Three-quarters of our Planet is covered by water, and PACE’s advanced instruments will provide new ways to measure the distributions of microscopic algae known as phytoplankton near the ocean’s surface. Those observations will enhance our understanding of the crucial exchange of carbon dioxide CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere. It will also help identifying the extent and duration of harmful algal blooms.


At the same time, PACE will help reveal how aerosols – microscopic particles in the atmosphere – and clouds control the amount of the Sun’s energy that is absorbed by Earth.


And the connection of both, how aerosols might fuel phytoplankton growth in the surface ocean.


By the way, do you know that what we commnly call “smell of the sea” is the result of a chemical reaction? Its is generated when zooplankton eat the phytoplankton, releasing a chemical called dimethyl sulphide. Such tiny particles containing sulphur, which can also be caused by human interference such as expelled from diesel ship funnels, obviously let to further atmospheric reactions.


In short, the mission will study what makes Earth so different from every other planet we study: life itself.


Click here for NASA's portal explaining all about PACE. And by clicking at the image below you go straight to NASA's live "Global Climate Change - Eyes on Earth - PACE". Menu option "Vital Signs" (of the Planet) takes you to several key indicators, such as:

  • Air Temperature

  • Carbon Dioxide

  • Sea Level

  • Soil Moisture

  • Water Storage


Not to mention Visible Earth, Carbon Monoxide, Precipitation, Water Vapour, Salinity, Ozone, Nitrous Oxide, Hydrocloridric Acid, Chlorine Monoxide and Nitric Acid.


Quite a lot of live science available. And chemistry.


If you are more in the mood for a video, here is the YouTube recording of the satellite launch. It includes quite a lot of explanations before and after the launch itself (around minute 30). By the way, several quotes above were taken from YouTube.




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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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