ACE

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• Launch date:  25 August 1997

• Agency: NASA

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The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) is an Explorer mission launched 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