EPIC Observations Pouring In

Narration: Jefferson Beck


[Chimes] Narrator: We’ve grown accustomed to seeing images of our planet from space, but full Earth views like these have actually only seen by a few astronauts on their way to the moon, and a handful of retreating space probes like Galileo as they peered back toward home for the last time.

But thanks to the EPIC camera on the DSCOVR satellite we now have a new image of the entire sunlit side of the Earth every two hours. Of course, satellites in low- Earth orbit give us high-resolution images of the planet every day, but they need to be patched together over time to make a composite “blue marble”.

Seeing the full sunlit side of the Earth at once will advance our understanding of dust particles, or aerosols, traveling in the atmosphere, the height and location of daytime clouds, and the amount of the sun’s energy reflected by the Earth, all of which help calculate the Earth’s energy balance for climate studies.

DSCOVR is the first Earth-observing satellite parked in orbit at L1, the first Lagrange point, a spot almost a million miles from Earth where the gravitational pull between our planet and the sun is at perfect balance.

Even from so far away, EPIC will be able to make observations of vegetation cover on land and individual ship tracks at sea.

DSCOVR also has instruments facing the sun, which will study the solar wind and its magnetic field, as well as give us early warning of severe space weather.