The primary science instrument planned for PACE is the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) which will be capable of measuring the color of the ocean from ultraviolet to shortwave infrared. Learn more about the OCI »
PACE will likely include two polarimeters. Such instruments are used to measure how the oscillation of sunlight within a geometric plane - known as its polarization - is changed by passing through clouds, aerosols, and the ocean.
PACE's polarimeters are planned to be contributed by the Netherlands (SPEXone) and University of Maryland Baltimore County (HARP-2). These instruments are very compact: for example, HARP-2 weighs 13 kg (28.7 lb).
SPEXone will be excellent for aerosol characterization. It will also address aerosol climate objectives beyond those required of the OCI. HARP-2 will extend the aerosol observations to a wider swath and will be excellent for cloud droplet size, along with ice particle shape and roughness determination. It will provide cloud-observing capabilities beyond those required of OCI. Its wide swath will approximately match that of the OCI, offering potentially improved atmospheric correction for ocean color.
PACE is NASA's Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem mission, currently in the design phase of mission development. It is scheduled to launch in 2022, extending and improving NASA's over 20-year record of satellite observations of global ocean biology, aerosols (tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere), and clouds.
PACE will advance the assessment of ocean health by measuring the distribution of phytoplankton, tiny plants and algae that sustain the marine food web. It will also continue systematic records of key atmospheric variables associated with air quality and Earth's climate.