Aquarius is a focused satellite mission to measure global Sea Surface Salinity (SSS). Scientific progress is limited because conventional in situ SSS sampling is too sparse to give the global view of salinity variability that only a satellite can provide. Aquarius will resolve missing physical processes that link the water cycle, the climate, and the ocean.
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The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission is a recent addition to the NASA flight program manifest as recommended in the report, “Responding to the Challenge of Climate and Environmental Change: NASA’s plan for a Climate-Centric Architecture for Earth Observations and Applications from Space”, published in June 2010. As described in the report, the primary objective is to “make essential global ocean color measurements, essential for understanding the carbon cycle and how it both affects and is affected by climate change…”.
The purpose of the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS; 1997-2010) Project is to provide quantitative data on global ocean bio-optical properties to the Earth science community. Subtle changes in ocean color signify various types and quantities of marine phytoplankton (microscopic marine plants), the knowledge of which has both scientific and practical applications. The SeaWiFS Project will develop and operate a research data system that will process, calibrate, validate, archive and distribute data received from an Earth-orbiting ocean color sensor.