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Following repeated delays, NASA launches new PACE Earth-observing satellite
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Following repeated delays, NASA launches new PACE Earth-observing satellite
by Darryl Coote
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 8, 2024

NASA launched its new Earth-observing satellite into space early Thursday following several days of weather-related delays.

The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and ocean Ecosystem orbital will provide NASA scientists with data that they will use to better understand the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, and was launched into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 1:33 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday but unfavorable weather off the coast of Flordia repeatedly pushed the highly anticipated launch to Thursday.

Late Wednesday, with less than two hours before the scheduled liftoff, SpaceX announced that "all systems are looking good and weather is 95% favorable for liftoff."

About 4 minutes into the flight, fairing separation was confirmed, and the PACE satellite was exposed to space in preparation for separation from the launch vehicle, which happened less than 10 minutes later.

The orbital has since made contact with ground stations back on Earth, according to NASA. SpaceX also confirmed that the first-stage booster used in the launch safely returned to Earth.

"Congratulations to the PACE team on a successful launch. With this new addition to NASA's fleet of Earth-observing satellites, PACE will help us learn, like never before, how particles in our atmosphere and our oceans can identify key factors impacting global warming," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

"Missions like this are supporting the Biden-Harris Administration's climate agenda and helping us answer urgent questions about our changing climate."

The orbital, which is on a three-year mission, is equipped with an array of instruments that will be used to collect data on clouds, aerosols and phytoplankton growth, according to NASA, which said in a statement that it will provide "insights into the interactions of the ocean and atmosphere, and how a changing climate affects these interactions."

"Observations and scientific research from PACE will profoundly advance our knowledge of the ocean's role in the climate cycle," Karen St. Germain, director, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said.

"As an open-source science mission with early adopters ready to use its research and data, PACE will accelerate our understanding of the Earth system and help NASA deliver actionable science, data and practical applications to help our coastal communities and industries address rapidly evolving challenges."

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