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The PACE Project has successfully completed the formulation phase of the mission and officially entered the design phase (Phase B) following a July 13th review at NASA Headquarters. This is a significant transition for the team as it turns its focus on establishing the spacecraft, instruments, and ground system preliminary designs. The project will also make key decisions on the inclusion of a polarimeter instrument and the launch vehicle selection.

Building on lessons learned from previous ocean color studies, a team of dedicated people is bringing PACE to life. Like dozens of successful NASA ventures before it, PACE will face a series of important milestones - including rigorous internal and external reviews – on the road to launch and beyond. The Development Team at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) will guide PACE through each Mission Phase as the instruments, spacecraft, and observatory are built, tested, and flown. Explore the interactive timeline below to learn more.

PACE Instruments
The two primary science instruments planned for PACE are the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI), which is being built at GSFC, and a multi-angle polarimeter that will be procured from an industry partner.

OCI Specifics:
  • Single detector, rotating telescope scanner (like SeaWiFS)
  • 20-degree tilt to avoid sun glint
  • Monthly lunar calibration of all science detectors
  • Ground sample distance ~ 1 square kilometer at nadir
  • 5 nanometer (nm) resolution from 350 to 890 nm
  • Plus short-wave infrared (SWIR) bands centered on 940, 1240, 1380, 1640, 2130 & 2250 nm
  • Image artifacts <0.5% at calibrated, top-of-atmosphere radiances

Why a Polarimeter?
  • Atmospheric Correction is difficult to accurately perform without a polarimeter when absorbing aerosols are present
  • Aerosol Science on the radiative forcing of climate that can be done with a polarimeter is complementary to ocean color objectives
  • Cloud Science associated with cloud feedback is facilitated by the combined payload of an ocean color instrument & polarimeter
  • Hydrosol Characterization is improved by observations of the polarization of scattered light
PACE Overview
Earth surface spatial resolution at nadir of 1 kilometer2 (0.4 miles2) or better for all science bands.
Nominal spacecraft altitude is 676.5 kilometers (420 miles).
OCI will have 2-day global coverage at 60° instrument view angle. Polarimeter would have 3-day global coverage.
Downlink and storage of the complete 5-nanometer resolution data from spacecraft to ground.
Monthly characterization of instrument detector and optical component changes using lunar observations through the Earth-viewing port that illuminate all science detector elements.
PACE is being implemented as a NASA Class C mission with a notional launch date in the 2022-2023 timeframe and a minimum mission duration of three years, with orbit maintenance capabilities for 10 years.
PACE is designed as a design-to-cost mission, meaning that it has a fixed budget cap.
Upcoming Events
JUL 10 - AUG 5, 2017Ocean Optics Summer Course
JAN 16-18, 2018Science Team Meeting
Events marked with an asterisk (*) are tentative.
MAY 15-18, 2017International Ocean Colour Science Meeting 2017
MAR 27, 2017Key Decision Point - B
JAN 24-26, 2017Mission System Requirements Review
JAN 17-19, 2017PACE Science Team Meeting
DEC 13, 2016PACE Town Hall at AGU Fall Meeting
AUG 18, 2016Acquisition Strategy Meeting
JUN 30, 2016OCI PACE Mission Preliminary Design Webinar
JUN 2016Key Decision Point - Phase A
MAR 2016Mission Concept Review
JAN 2016PACE Science Team Meeting
JAN 2015PACE Science Team Meeting
MAR 2012PACE Science Definition Team Meeting
NOV 2011PACE Science Definition Team Meeting