This satellite has been waiting 16 years for the day it will launch…

…and on Sunday, February 8, it will finally get the chance!

The DSCOVR satellite - NASA, NOAA and the USAF's Deep Space Climate Observatory - will orbit Lagrange Point 1 (L1), a point between the Earth and the Sun where the gravitational pull of both are in balance, where it will monitor the solar wind from one side, and take whole-Earth images of our planet on the other (the first satellite to do so).

The DSCOVR satellite – NASA, NOAA and the USAF’s Deep Space Climate Observatory – will orbit Lagrange Point 1 (L1), a point between the Earth and the Sun where the gravitational pull of both are in balance, where it will monitor the solar wind from one side, and take whole-Earth images of our planet on the other (the first satellite to do so).

Originally conceived in 1998 as the ‘Triana’ mission, by none-other than Al Gore himself, the satellite had an all-Earth-observing mission. The stream of images it provided would monitor the effects of climate change, and hopefully inspire the public for action on this important issue. For this reason, Gore’s opponents targeted the mission, nicknaming it ‘GoreSat’ and dismissing its mission as simply an ‘expensive screensaver’. The project was shelved and the satellite itself – already completed at the time – was put into storage. Now revived as DSCOVR, re-certified for launch and bound for space on a Falcon 9 rocket, the mission has been partly repurposed to monitor space weather, and provide more information for forecasters on the potential impacts of the solar wind and coronal mass ejections, to protect valuable technologies both in orbit and here on the ground.

The climate science portion of the mission has been preserved, though. EPIC, the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, will be pointing back at us once the satellite is safely in orbit around L1, taking images and providing data on a number of factors that effect climate change – aerosols, cloud heights, dust, ozone and volcanic ash.

 

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