The official ACE logo
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA

ACE Mission Page

Have you ever wondered what you are made of? Where did the elements come from that make up your body? The elements that make up your body are the same elements found on the Earth. Where did those Earth elements come from? Most would say that the building blocks of the Earth came from the Sun...and that the Sun's material came from the Milky Way galaxy, and the Galaxy's material came from the universe...

So you see, if we can better understand the composition of the universe, our galaxy, and our Sun, we can understand how the solar system formed (including the Earth), and perhaps, even our own bodies! Now there is a spacecraft designed to do just this! The ACE (Advanced Compostion Explorer) was launched in August 1997. The main goal of ACE is to study the particles that come near the Earth from the Sun, from the space between the planets, and from the Milky Way galaxy beyond the solar system.

ACE has nine instruments onboard that helps it track particles. The ACE spacecraft will track the solar wind coming from the Sun. ACE also traces galactic cosmic rays which come from interstellar space located beyond the heliosphere (that which is beyond the influence of the IMF), but generally from within our galaxy. The ACE satellite serves as a spaceweather station while in orbit. ACE can provide a one-hour advance warning of any geomagnetic storms that are caused by coronal mass ejections. The effects of coronal mass ejections on the Sun can cause radio, t.v., and telephone communication loss here on Earth.

The ACE mission is an important addition to current missions including Ulysses and SOHO.

The ACE mission has had an extremely successful mission so far. It recently (June 1998) made some exciting discoveries about coronal mass ejections. Here's an animation which describes more...

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Element (Chemical Element)

An element (also called a "chemical element") is a substance made up entirely of atoms having the same atomic number; that is, all of the atoms have the same number of protons. Hydrogen, helium, oxygen,...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more

Meteor Shower May Cause Problem with Spacecraft

The Leonids meteor shower is expected to peak on November 17th, 1998. The meteors may cause problems with many different satellites in orbit. The meteors could break the outside skin of the satellites...more

Flying Atoms?

Scientists have found a possible source of the high speed atoms flying through space in the form of cosmic rays. These atoms reach velocities close to the speed of light. It was known that the source...more

TRACING the Sun...

On March 30, 1998, the TRACE spacecraft will be launched. TRACE stands for Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (try saying that fast three times!). This spacecraft has four telescopes on it. The telescopes...more

TRACING the Sun...

The TRACE spacecraft was launched April 1st at 9:42 p.m. EST from the central California coast. TRACE stands for Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (try saying that fast three times!). This spacecraft...more

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST found numerous...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA