Nasa releases image of Earth from one million miles away
J Thoendell stashed this in Space
Nasa's released an amazing image of Earth photographed from one million miles way.
The photo, which has been compared to a blue marble, was taken by a camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite.
It was produced by putting together three separate images.
The new photo was taken on 6 July and shows North and Central America, with the turquoise areas in the middle the shallow seas around the Caribbean.
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned anything about DSCOVR's past history in the comments. Ask NASA and they'll tell you it's a space weather observatory that takes some pictures of Earth sometimes. It was actually built for another purpose.
This spacecraft was built in 2000, after being championed by Al Gore. He envisioned a camera at L1 that could image the entire planet at once, specifically for studies of global climate change. It was built and tested, and almost ready for launch until George W. Bush was elected president. It sat in storage for 14 years waiting out the Bush administration, because when G.W. took over, his people didn't want a climate observatory in space confirming global warming.
It was derided as frivolous and even called "Goresat" for a long time. Essentially, enough people with political connections killed it by mocking it, trying to undermine its usefulness, and quietly taking money away from the project. After the budget for the mission was eliminated, the people who built it stashed it in a storage container filled with nitrogen to preserve it until they could get it launched. These two articles (1 and 2) go into detail about DSCOVR's fight to the launch pad.
Even now, NASA and NOAA are cagey about the mission's original purpose -- a study of global climate. Politics kept it on the ground for a long time, and I'm happy to see it finally flying. But I wish that NASA and NOAA didn't have to be all cloak-and-dagger about it. This spacecraft will help prove the science that most people already understand -- our climate is changing, and being a petulant child like so many climate deniers will not change that.
The solar weather observations are actually the afterthought (as important as they are). Taking pictures like this is what DSCOVR was built for. Hopefully both of its missions will help enlighten those who have thought looking the other way would prove them right.
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