What’s behind the curtain of the NASA Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission? Training Activity – apply by 11 March 2022

What’s behind the curtain of the NASA Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission?

Training Activity

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In 2015, NASA directed the PACE mission to Goddard Space Flight Center following recommendations from the 2010 NASA document Responding to the Challenge of Climate and Environmental Change: NASA’s plan for Climate-Centric Architecture for Earth Observations and Applications from Space. This direction ultimately realized the research communities’ decade-plus push for a future Earth-observing satellite mission to meet growing needs for scientific discovery. A central objective of PACE is enabling new insights on the sensitivity of global aquatic ecology and biogeochemistry to environmental change.

While heritage ocean color missions have provided desperately needed platforms for observing grossly under-sampled ocean ecosystems since 1997, the oceanographic community quickly recognized the need for enhanced satellite measurement capabilities to address the additional issues of changing phytoplankton distributions, ecosystem and habitat health, and carbon fluxes in the global oceans. The second objective of PACE is the retrieval of advanced atmospheric data products with the goals of reducing uncertainties in global climate models and improving our interdisciplinary understanding of the ocean-atmosphere system. Despite the substantial achievements of heritage satellite missions, better constraining aerosol and cloud properties and improving our understanding of effective radiative forcing requires significant advances in measurement capabilities. Phrased simply, PACE is NASA’s next great investment in ocean, clouds, and atmospheric data records to enable continued and advanced insight into oceanographic and atmospheric responses to Earth’s changing climate.

Read the proposal


Training Activity: A one-week graduate-level course on the upcoming NASA PACE mission and passive satellite remote sensing, with foci on both oceans and atmospheres. The activity will comprise lectures, labs, field trips, and special events.

Target audience: ~30 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, or early career professionals (defined as <4 years since completing their terminal degree)

Apply by March 11 (midnight ET) - applications are closed. Notifications coming soon!

Location: The activity will take place in the Baltimore, MD area (exact venue TBD)

Dates: August 1-5, 2022

Topics (draft list):

  • History of ocean color / atmospheric observations from satellites
  • How does it work? Spectroscopy
  • How does it work? Radiative transfer through the atmosphere and ocean
  • How does it work? Polarimetry
  • PACE ocean color science (biogeochemical and bio-optical retrievals)
  • PACE atmospheric science (aerosols and clouds retrievals)
  • PACE modeling and applications
  • Using PACE in a consumer’s market
  • OCI behind the scenes
    Why doesn’t every satellite measure hyperspectral radiances at 1 m2?
    Design choices and trade spaces
    Relating requirements to engineering reality
    How does it work?


  • HARP2 behind the scenes
  • SPEXone behind the scenes
  • Flight projects behind the scenes
  • How to take an idea to orbit
  • Using PACE data
    • netCDF, metadata, data processing levels, standard products, and you
    • Learning from simulated data
    • SeaDAS (and equivalent) lab
  • Validating ocean and atmospheric data products
  • Uncertainties for performance assessments


Jeremy Werdell (GSFC; PACE Project Scientist)

Brian Cairns (GISS; PACE Deputy Project Scientist – Atmospheres)

Ivona Cetinić (GSFC; PACE Project Science Lead for Biogeochemistry)

Antonio Mannino (GSFC; PACE Deputy Project Scientist – Oceans)

Vanderlei Martins (UMBC; HARP2 Project Scientist)

Lorraine Remer (UMBC; HARP2 Project Manager, Science & Applications Team Deputy Lead)

Pengwang Zhai (UMBC; Science & Applications Team Project lead)


Teaching Assistant
Jessie Turner (UConn)