Do not underestimate how important this resource is.
Only 24 humans have seen the entirety of Earth from Space with their own eyes and that’s not changing any time soon. However thanks to a joint effort by NASA, NOAA and USAF we are a step closer to having unrestricted access to instant and current imagery of our blue marble via a brand new website.
Once a day, every day from here on NASA will upload a minimum of a dozen images as taken by a camera called EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera) with complete access revealing the entire globe.
Safely in orbit a million miles out at the L1 Lagrange point between the Earth and the Sun, the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft (DSCOVR) is poised to help scientists increase our understanding of our home planet and interconnected natural systems by building up long term data records.
From NASA press release:
The primary objective of NOAA’s DSCOVR mission is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA. NASA has two Earth-observing instruments on the spacecraft. EPIC’s images of Earth allow scientists to study daily variations over the entire globe in such features as vegetation, ozone, aerosols, and cloud height and reflectivity.
The primary instrument onboard, suitably named EPIC is a complex imaging system housed with a Cassegrain telescope. Spread of 10 channels it is able to capture light on wavelengths between 318-780 nm allowing observations to be made specifically on Ozone, Aerosols, vegetation and clouds. For reference the human eye can see roughly between 400-700nm.
The resolution EPIC is able to obtain measures roughly 10-15km per pixel. Despite its promise of vanity from here on, DSCOVR isn’t an exercise in making the ultimate selfie. You will note once you begin to explore the archive that America and Europe are mere blips in the grand scheme of things being hidden up behind clouds in the Northern hemisphere. What is also incredibly apparent is the vast expanse of water that is the Pacific ocean.
Date to look out for: 8/9th March 2016. As our Moon lies less than a quarter of the distance from Earth as DSCOVR does, we should see it pass in front of the EPIC cameras during the annular eclipse of this date. We might get to see the shadow too.
For daily updates from the EPIC camera please visit http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/
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