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Building on lessons learned from previous ocean color studies, a team of dedicated people is bringing PACE to life. PACE will face a series of important milestones during its mission development. The Development Team at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) will guide PACE through each phase as the instruments, spacecraft, and observatory are built, tested, and flown.


GSFC is responsible for the principal mission elements, including the design and fabrication of the spacecraft, development of scientific instrumentation. The Investigation Team, funded by NASA Earth Science Directorate, will provide data analysis for the mission.

Observatory Overview
Mass with fuel Not to exceed 1700 kg (3748 lb)
Dimensions 1.5 m x 1.5 m x 3.2 m (4.9 ft x 4.9 ft x 10.5 ft)
Power 1000 Watts
Communications S-Band - Command & Telemetry
Ka-Band - Science Data


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. The mission is considering options for a complementary polarimeter to assist in atmospheric correction, and make observations of aerosols and clouds. Learn more about the OCI »

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

Mission Architecture

Mission Status
In July 2017, the mission entered Phase B, Preliminary Design & Technology Completion, with an expected launch readiness date of 2022.
Mission lifecycle phases
View the full mission timeline »
Upcoming Events
SEP 24-27, 2018SPIE Optics + Photonics Conference: Remote Sensing of the Open and Coastal Ocean and Inland Waters
Events marked with an asterisk (*) are tentative.
FEB 14, 2018Ocean Sciences Meeting Town Hall - PACE: NASA's Next Generation Aerosol, Cloud and Ocean Color Satellite Mission
JAN 24, 2018Webinar: Bio-optical in situ Data Discovery and Access with SeaBass
JAN 16-18, 2018Science Team Meeting (Fort Pierce, FL)
NOV 2, 2017NASA/WRI Workshop on Use of Satellite Data for Ocean Health and Fisheries
JUL 10 - AUG 5, 2017Ocean Optics Summer Course
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
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) with an inclination of 98°.
OCI will have 2-day global coverage at 60° instrument view angle.
Downlink and storage of the complete 5-nanometer resolution data from spacecraft to ground at 600 Mbps.
The PACE spacecraft will store information collected over 7 orbits, totaling about 1.7 terabytes (1.7x1012 bytes) of data.
Monthly characterization of instrument detector and optical component changes using lunar observations through the Earth-viewing port that illuminate all science detector elements. Daily solar calibrations.
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.