Read at Futurism
NASA has launched the PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystem) mission, which will study the microscopic life forms and particles in Earth's atmosphere. The mission aims to revolutionize our understanding of global warming, ocean ecosystems, and threatened marine life.
"What we're doing here with PACE is really the search for the microscopic, mostly invisible universe in the sea and the sky, and in some degrees, on land, too," PACE project scientist Jeremy Werdell told CNN.
The PACE mission is equipped with three sensors to monitor phytoplankton distribution, aerosols in the atmosphere, and sunlight reflected by Earth. Phytoplanktons, which produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, are crucial for maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. Understanding their carbon-trapping abilities and toxic blooms is key to assessing the state of marine ecosystems.
As photosynthesizers, phytoplanktons - which include tiny algae and plants - have produced around 50 percent of the Earth's oxygen. Crucially, they also suck up huge amounts of carbon dioxide that'd otherwise stay in the atmosphere to heat up the planet. They're clearly indispensable, but some species come with a major caveat: they produce toxic blooms that threaten other forms of marine life.
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