This is what the Earth looks like from one million miles away
NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory began to send back images, beginning with a stunning shot of what the Earth looks like from one million miles away.
With all that’s currently happening on planet Earth, every once in a while it’s nice to take a breath and look at something amazing. And the image above is absolutely amazing for a couple of reasons.
Back in 2015, while NASA’s attention is mostly focused on exploring the Pluto, the space agency reached another fairly significant accomplishment that was somewhat overlooked.
In July 2015, NASA’s abbreviation-friendly Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) completed its 100 days, five-month journey to its new home past the moon. The satellite was developed by NASA for the purpose of observing Earth and its weather conditions, and once ti came online it immediately started sending back a few stunning images.
The spacecraft rests at 930,000 miles from the Earth, and it takes an image every two hours or so, switching through different spectrums of light from ultraviolet to near-infrared. The first of those images – which is actually three images put together – showed the Earth in a way we’d never quite seen it before, at a distance of nearly one million miles. Significantly, those images were also taken on June 20, exactly 46 years to the day that humanity first set foot on the moon.
“DSCOVR offers us a vantage point view – for all of us — of our beautiful Earth, as well as becoming part of a neighborhood watch program that looks for harmful solar activity,” Buzz Aldrin, who you may have heard of, said of the new spacecraft. “The spacecraft orbits between Earth and the Sun at a location called the Lagrange point 1, or L1. Being there gives DSCOVR a unique vantage point to see the Earth and Sun.”
DSCOVR launched on February 11, 2015, carried into space by SpaceX’s Falcon rocket. The actual mission was originally proposed by then-Vice President Al Gore back in 1998, and the purpose was – and remains – to observe solar wind conditions, as well as monitor the planet’s ozone, dust, cloud height, volcanic ash, and more.
The spacecraft is just warming up, and its mission is expected to last until 2020, hopefully longer.
“This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space,” said NASA administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden, a former astronaut. “DSCOVR’s observations of Earth, as well as its measurements and early warnings of space weather events caused by the sun, will help every person to monitor the ever-changing Earth and to understand how our planet fits into its neighborhood in the solar system.”
All of that is cool, but for now, here is an image of what the Earth looks like from one million miles out. That’s pretty amazing.