NASA’s PACE Ocean-Monitoring Satellite will be Launched This Week By SpaceX

Tuesday, February 6 at 1:33 a.m. EST (0633 GMT) is when NASA’s PACE spacecraft, which will assist scientists in assessing the condition of oceans worldwide, is scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

PACE, which stands for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem, will be launched by Falcon 9 into an orbit 420 miles (677 kilometers) above Earth, or roughly 70% higher than the International Space Station.

PACE’s three research instruments will be used from that vantage point “to collect data on clouds, aerosols, and phytoplankton growth that can determine ocean color,” according to a mission update released by NASA on Thursday, February 1.

“Measuring the color and amount of light will help scientists better understand the types and locations of microscopic algae, which are vital to the health of Earth’s oceans and its marine life,” they stated. “PACE will contribute to NASA’s more than 20 years of global satellite observations of ocean biology and key measurements related to air quality and climate.”

If all goes as planned, the 10.5-foot-long (3.2-meter-long) PACE will perform its task for at least three years.

PACE traveled a protracted and occasionally terrifying route to the launch pad. In its budget requests for the fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020, the Trump administration made three different attempts to terminate the mission. However, Congress provided the necessary funding each time, preventing PACE from being eliminated.

PACE took a long, sometimes dangerous detour to reach the launch site. Three attempts to end the mission were made by the Trump administration in its budget requests for the fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020. But each time, Congress supplied the required cash, saving PACE from being terminated.