NASA Releases EPIC New View Of Earth From A Million Miles Away

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) Gives The World Its First EPIC View Of Earth Since 1972 (image source: NASA.gov)

It has been a long journey for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Once known as Triana, the satellite was conceived in 1998 to provide continuous views of Earth, to monitor the solar wind, and to measure fluctuations in Earth’s albedo. The mission was put on hold in 2001, and the partly-built satellite ended up in storage for several years with an uncertain future. In 2008, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and the U.S. Air Force decided to refurbish and update the spacecraft for launch.

On February 11, 2015, DSCOVR was finally lofted into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. After journey of about 1.6 million kilometers (1 million miles) to the L1 Lagrange Point, the satellite and its Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth.

EPIC photo acquired July 6, 2015 (image source: NASA.gov)

EPIC photo acquired July 6, 2015
(image source: NASA.gov)

download large image (289 KB, JPEG, 1041×1041)

At the L1 Lagrange Point, four times farther from earth than the orbit of the Moon, the gravitational pull of the Sun and Earth cancel each other out. This point in space provides a stable orbit and a continuous view of Earth. The image above was made by combining information from EPIC’s red, green, and blue bands. (Bands are narrow regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to which a remote sensing instrument responds. When EPIC collects data, it takes a series of 10 images at different bands—from ultraviolet to near infrared.)

It has not been possible to capture images of the entire sunlit side of Earth in a single photo since the Apollo 17 astronauts captured the iconic Blue Marble photograph in 1972. While NASA has released other blue marble images over the years, those have mostly been mosaics stitched together with image processing software and not a single view of Earth taken at one moment in time.

“This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “As a former astronaut who’s been privileged to view the Earth from orbit, I want everyone to be able to see and appreciate our planet as an integrated, interacting system.”

This classic photograph of the Earth was taken on December 7, 1972. The original caption is reprinted below (image source: NASA.gov)

Classic “blue marble” photograph of the Earth was taken on December 7, 1972. Astronaut photograph AS17-148-22727 courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
Instrument(s): Apollo – 70mm Camera
(image source: NASA.gov)

View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the coast of Africa is the Malagasy Republic. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast.

There are almost Seven and a half BILLION people on that beautiful blue ball, kind of gives you a sense of perspective doesn’t it?

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Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid “people watcher,” political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.

About the Author

Jon Britton
Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid "people watcher," political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.

1 Comment on "NASA Releases EPIC New View Of Earth From A Million Miles Away"

  1. IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." | July 22, 2015 at 10:32 pm |

    Ummm… I am sure that solar wind is not going to arrive at the speed of light, but I don’t believe you’re going to have an hour’s warning, either. An hour’s notice means the solar wind — which is mostly charged particles — would be traveling at one tenth of one percent of the speed of light, about 300miles/sec, which is disgustingly slow for any atomic particles. I would suspect the ACTUAL max warning would be something on the order of 2-3 minutes. And that’s assuming the satellite itself doesn’t get fried by the storm.

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