NASA has just released a stunning color image of the sunlit side of Earth. The image was captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) from a distance of one million miles on July 6. The EPIC mounted on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite took three different filtered images that were combined to generate this incredible photo.
It shows the benefits of observing Earth from space
The stunning image prompted President Barack Obama to tweet about the need to save the “only planet we have.” The image clearly shows complex cloud patterns, river systems, and desert sand structures. It shows North and Central America, and the Gulf of Mexico. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said this first image of Earth taken by DSCOVR shows the unique benefits of observing our planet from space.
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— President Obama (@POTUS44) July 20, 2015
DSCOVR’s observations and early warnings of space weather events caused by the Sun will help scientists monitor Earth, and understand how our planet fits into the solar system. EPIC takes a series of ten pictures using different narrow-band filters. The Earth gets its bluish tint in the image due to the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules.
NASA will soon start releasing new images ever day
NASA scientists are now working to create a rendering of this image that would remove the atmospheric effect and emphasize land features. Once DSCOVR starts regular data acquisition, NASA will release new images every day. These pictures will be posted to a dedicated web page 12-36 hours after they are acquired by EPIC.
DSCOVR is a joint project by NASA, U.S. Air Force, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was launched in February to monitor space weather and solar wind. Keeping tabs on space weather would help researchers issue accurate warnings about potential solar storms that could disrupt the power and telecom infrastructure.
The DSCOVR satellite recently reached its orbit at the first Lagrange point (L1) between the Earth and Sun. L1 is a point where the Sun and Earth’s gravity fields cancel each other out.