NASA captured a truly ‘EPIC’ picture of Earth from 1 million miles away.
NASA’s recently launched Deep Space Climate Observatory, abbreviated DSCOVR, released its first image of the entire sunlit side of Earth seen from approximately 1 million miles away. The satellite captured the photograph from Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable location between the Earth and the Sun.
The image was captured by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera — EPIC for short — aboard NASA’s DSCOVR satellite on July 6, 2015. It is the first image of Earth captured by DSCOVR that shows the entire sunlit portion of the planet. DSCOVR will soon begin capturing daily images of Earth, which will, for the first time, provide daily observations across the entire planet.
“Earth. Not mounted on a stand, with color-coded state and national boundaries, as schoolroom globes are prone to display. Instead, we see our world as only a cosmic perspective can provide: blue oceans, dry land, white clouds, polar ice. A sun-lit planet, teeming with life, framed in darkness.” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said in a White House press release.
The image was released on Monday, July 20, which marked the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Astronauts aboard the Apollo 17 lunar mission were the first to capture an image of an almost completely illuminated hemisphere of Earth on Dec. 7, 1972. That image became one of the most iconic photographs of the space age and has come to be known as The Blue Marble.
“The image was generated by combining three separate images to create a photographic-quality image.” NASA said in a statement. “The camera takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these color images.”
“This Earth image shows the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules, giving the image a characteristic bluish tint,” NASA added. “The EPIC team is working to remove this atmospheric effect from subsequent images.”
DSCOVR is a space weather and Earth observation satellite operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The satellite was launched on Feb. 11, 2015, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. DSCOVR was the first deep space mission launched by SpaceX.