NASA has teased us with a few stunning images of Earth taken by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite — but now we'll be able feast on the spacecraft's photographs daily. The space agency launched a new website today that will post a dozen new images from DSCOVR each day, showing the Earth as it rotates over a 24-hour period.
A collaboration between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the DSCOVR satellite's main purpose is to observe space weather, such as magnetic fields emitted from the Sun that can muck up our planet's communication systems. The satellite was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in February and now sits at Lagrangian Point 1 — a position in space approximately 1 million miles away. At this point, the gravitational pulls from both the Sun and Earth keep DSCOVR in a more or less stable position next to our planet at all times.
Feast on the DSCOVR's photographs daily
This position also provides DSCOVR with a spectacular view of Earth. Fortunately, the satellite was equipped with a camera to capture our planet's facade called the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, appropriately nicknamed EPIC. The camera is a powerful telescope, which takes a series of 10 images of Earth at a time in different light wavelengths — ranging from ultraviolet to the near infrared. The red, green, and blue channel images are combined together to make the spectacular color images of Earth, with resolutions between 6.2 and 9.4 miles per pixel.
Each image posted to the new website will be one of these combination images, taken by EPIC 12 to 36 hours before the photograph goes live. Since Earth is so bright, the images are taken with very short exposures — between 20 to 100 milliseconds — drowning out the faint light of the Universe's stars in the background. The website details what surface features are visible in the images, as well as DSCOVR's position relative to the Sun and Earth when the picture was snapped. All the photos are archived as well, so you can go back in time to see the various positions of our planet from days passed.
Verge Video: What liquid water on Mars means