Greetings from the NASA Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Project at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Scheduled for launch in late 2022, PACE is a strategic climate continuity activity that will not only extend key heritage ocean color, cloud, and aerosol data records, but also promises to enable new insight into oceanographic, biological, and atmospheric responses to Earth’s changing climate. We’re writing today to update the community on the mission instruments, all of which recently successfully completed their Preliminary Design Reviews (PDRs).
PACE’s primary instrument is a tilting, global spectrometer being built at GSFC that spans the ultraviolet to near-infrared region at 5 nm resolution and also includes seven discrete shortwave infrared bands centered on 940, 1038, 1250, 1378, 1615, 2130, and 2260 nm. This ocean color instrument (OCI) will provide 2-day global coverage with a local Equatorial crossing time of 13:00 and nadir footprint of 1-km. PACE’s OCI passed its PDR in March 2018 and is now beginning engineering test unit development. Additional details can be found here.
The PACE payload will also include two small multi-angle polarimeters that measure intensities of polarized light at several viewing angles. The first, the Spectro-Polarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEXone), will be contributed by the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON). SPEXone will provide narrow swath (100 km), hyperspectral data at 2-nm resolution from 385 to 770 nm with 22 polarized bands at 5 view angles and a nadir footprint of ~2.5 km. SPEXone passed its PDR in June 2018. The second, the Hyper Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP-2) will be contributed by the University of Maryland Baltimore County. HARP-2 will provide wide swath (1550 km) polarized and unpolarized data at 440, 550, 670, and 870 nm at 20 to 60 view angles, with a nadir footprint of ~3 km. HARP-2 passed its PDR earlier this month. Additional details can be found here.
Please join me in congratulating the three instrument teams for surpassing their PDR milestones. We expect that this trio of complementary technologies will enable improved understanding of aquatic ecosystems and biogeochemistry, provide new information on phytoplankton community composition and improved detection of algal blooms, advance aerosol, hydrosol, and cloud characterizations, and provide opportunities for novel ocean color atmospheric correction.