New NASA's DSCOVR satellite provides breathtaking view of Earth
NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has returneda breathtaking image of planet Earth from a distance of roughly onemillion miles from the homeworld. The image captures the full disk ofour planet showing a stunning sunbathed vista of blue oceans andswirling clouds, with glimpses of the North and Central America landmasses.
Thanks to theproliferation of Earth observation platforms coupled with theall-pervading reach of social media, images of our planet from spaceare easy to come by. However, most Earth imaging observatories aretoo close to the planet to capture a complete picture of the complexecosystem that we call home.
For example, astronautsaboard the International Space Station (ISS) tweeting choice Earthviews to their legions of followers are unable to capture a unifiedpicture of our planet, as the station orbits in relatively closeproximity to Earth at a height of roughly 240 miles (400 km).
DSCOVR on the otherhand, having reached its planned orbit in February, is capable ofsnapping regular high detail portraits of spaceship Earth from astaggering 1 million miles above its surface. This new image is anear perfect example of DSCOVR's capabilities, displaying Earthhanging against the infinite blackness of space, granting a notion ofthe fragility of our planet, with a beauty to rival any image ofEarth's full disk taken to date.
"This first DSCOVRimage of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits ofEarth observation from space,” states NASA Administrator CharlieBolden. “As a former astronaut who’s been privileged to view theEarth from orbit, I want everyone to be able to see and appreciateour planet as an integrated, interacting system. DSCOVR’sobservations of Earth, as well as its measurements and early warningsof space weather events caused by the Sun, will help every person tomonitor the ever-changing Earth, and to understand how our planetfits into its neighborhood in the solar system.”
The image was capturedfrom the orbiter's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), whichboasts the capacity to observe our planet with the use of 10narrowband filters between the ultraviolet to near infraredspectrums. In this case, three separate images were combined tocreate a finished piece with near photographic-quality.
In the new blue marbleimage, sunlight has been scattered by Earth's atmosphere to create ablueish tinge, which becomes more pronounced toward the edge of the planetary disk. NASA is currently working on a remaster of the imagethat would mitigate the effect while highlighting land masses.
The images and datareturned by DSCOVR will be used to forecast and monitor real timesolar-winds, as well as quantifying ozone and aerosol levels presentin Earth's atmosphere. The satellite will also be capable ofmeasuring cloud height, and creating dust and ash maps for the entireplanet. By September 2015, images of Earth snapped by DSCOVR will beuploaded to a dedicated website a mere 12 – 36 hours afteracquisition.