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Mission Overview


The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) is an Explorer mission that was managed by the Office of Space Science Mission and Payload Development Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). More on the ACE personnel, including scientific Co-Investigators can be found here.


ACE launched on a McDonnell-Douglas Delta II 7920 launch vehicle on August 25, 1997 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


The Earth is constantly bombarded with a stream of accelerated particles arriving not only from the Sun, but also from interstellar and galactic sources. Study of these energetic particles contributes to our understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system as well as the astrophysical processes involved. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft carrying six high-resolution sensors and three monitoring instruments samples low-energy particles of solar origin and high-energy galactic particles with a collecting power 10 to 1000 times greater than past experiments.


ACE orbits the L1 libration point which is a point of Earth-Sun gravitational equilibrium about 1.5 million km from Earth and 148.5 million km from the Sun. From its location at L1 ACE has a prime view of the solar wind, interplanetary magnetic field and higher energy particles accelerated by the Sun, as well as particles accelerated in the heliosphere and the galactic regions beyond.


ACE also provides near-real-time 24/7 continuous coverage of solar wind parameters and solar energetic particle intensities (space weather). When reporting space weather ACE provides an advance warning (about one hour) of geomagnetic storms that can overload power grids, disrupt communications on Earth, and present a hazard to astronauts.


The spacecraft has enough propellant on board to maintain an orbit at L1 until ~2024.

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Related Links


3 Day Overview (click on image to enlarge...)

ACE Magnetic Field & Plasma - 3 DayACE Magnetic Field - 3 DayACE Solar Wind Plasma - 3 DayACE Low Energy Electrons & Protons - 3 DayACE Low Energy Electrons - 3 DayACE Low Energy Protons - 3 DayACE High Energy Protons - 3 Day

ACE Plasma & Magnetic Field - 3 Day

ACE Magnetic Field - 3 Day

ACE Solar Wind Plasma - 3 Day

ACE Low Energy Electrons & Protons - 3 Day

ACE Low Energy Electrons - 3 Day

ACE Low Energy Protons - 3 Day

ACE High Energy Protons - 3 Day


Orbit, Instruments, and Misc Information


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