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DSCOVR:

Deep Space Climate Observatory

Tracking Earth's Space Environment


Recent News...

DSCOVR space weather data now available!!!

July 27, 2016

 

Real-time data from DSCOVR and space weather forecasts are now available through the Space Weather Prediction Center. An archive of DSCOVR data is also accessible to users, who will be able to visualize and download the data.

GOES-R ready to join DSCOVR; will provide more complete picture of space weather

Set to launch on November 4, 2016, GOES-R will also help scientists monitor space weather.

Tom Berger of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center explains how these two satellites work together.

The DSCOVR operational transition highlights the value of the NOAA and NASA team that delivered the mission to space. The partnership between the research and operational Agencies has worked well for many years and will continue with NASA providing research and NOAA providing operational space weather observations.

Other articles of interest:



DSCOVR Captures an EPIC Year

July 22, 2016

A year after returning it's first image, NASA's EPIC camera, aboard NOAA's DSCOVR satellite, shows us an entire year from one million miles away.

This video was created using NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope, aboard NOAA's DSCOVR satellite. EPIC takes a new picture every two hours, revealing how the planet would look to human eyes, capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas. The camera has now recorded a full year of life on Earth from its orbit, seen here.

A million miles away, NOAA's DSCOVR, the Nation's first operational satellite in deep space, orbits a unique location called Lagrange point 1, or L1. This orbit is a gravity neutral point in space, allowing DSCOVR to essentially hover between the sun and Earth at all times, maintaining a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth. From here, the satellite can provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events, acting as a solar storm buoy in deep space.

Thanks to NASA's EPIC imager, DSCOVR's orbit also gives Earth scientists a unique vantage point for studies of the atmosphere and climate by continuously viewing the sunlit side of the planet. EPIC provides global spectral images of of Earth and insight into Earth's energy balance. EPIC's observations provide a unique angular perspective, and are used in science applications to measure ozone amounts, aerosol amounts, cloud height and phase, vegetation properties, hotspot land properties and UV radiation estimates at Earth's surface.

Learn more about this video at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12312.


DSCOVR Captures EPIC Eclipse

March 11, 2016

NASA's EPIC camera, aboard NOAA's DSCOVR satellite, captured a unique view of this week's solar eclipse. While residents of the Western Pacific looked up in the early morning hours to observe a total eclipse of the sun, DSCOVR looked on from a million miles away and captured the shadow of the moon crossing the planet.

This series of images was captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite. A million miles away, NOAA's DSCOVR satellite is the Nation's first operational satellite in deep space. DSCOVR hovers between the sun and Earth at all times, maintaining a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth. From here, the satellite can provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events, acting as a solar storm buoy in deep space.

NASA's EPIC imager also gives Earth scientists a unique vantage point for studies of the atmosphere and climate by continuously viewing the sunlit side of the planet. The EPIC imager provides global spectral images of Earth and insight into Earth's energy balance. EPIC's observations provide a unique angular perspective, and will be used in science applications to measure ozone amounts, aerosol amounts, cloud height and phase, vegetation properties, hotspot land properties and UV radiation estimates at Earth's surface.

To learn more about this EPIC eclipse, visit: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=87675&eocn=home&eoci=iotd_image

 

 Credit: NASA image courtesy of the DSCOVR EPIC team.

 


DSCOVR completes its first year in deep space!

March 7, 2016

 

Launched one year ago, on February 11, 2015, DSCOVR – the nation’s first operational satellite in deep space – is now orbiting one million miles away and will soon become America’s primary warning system for solar magnetic storms and solar wind data while giving Earth scientists a unique vantage point for studies of the planet's atmosphere and climate.

Click here to relive all of DSCOVR's major milestones over the last year with our new Story Map, Celebrating the First Anniversary: A Look Back at the Deep Space Climate Observatory's (DSCOVR) First Year in Space!

 


 

NOAA now in DSCOVR’s “Driver Seat” as
NASA Officially Hands over Command

October 28, 2015

DSCOVR successfully launched on Feburary 11, 2015 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It took the satellite just over 100 days to reach its final orbit at Lagrange point 1. Credit NOAA

Earlier today, NOAA officially took command of its Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite.

NASA, in charge of both the launch and activation of the satellite, has officially handed over satellite operations to NOAA’s DSCOVR team. Next, the team will optimize the final space weather instrument settings and the satellite will soon begin normal operation.

Launched February 11, 2015, DSCOVR – the nation’s first operational satellite in deep space – is set to replace NASA’s 17-year old ACE research satellite as America’s primary warning system for solar magnetic storms and solar wind data. (ACE will continue its role in space weather research).

DSCOVR will give NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) forecasters higher-quality measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor and warn of severe and potentially dangerous space weather events.

America’s first operational deep space satellite orbits one million miles from Earth. Positioned between the sun and Earth, it is able to maintain a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth. This location is called Lagrange point 1. (Illustration is not to scale) Credit: NOAA

Like a sensor buoy at sea can warn us of on oncoming tsunami, DSCOVR will be able to provide warnings 15 to 60 minutes before solar storms reach Earth.

A million miles away, DSCOVR orbits a unique location called Lagrange point 1, or L1. This point is a gravity neutral point in space, allowing DSCOVR to essentially hover between the sun and Earth at all times.

DSCOVR will be our eyes on the sun, and give us early warning when it detects a surge of energy that could trigger a geomagnetic storm destined for Earth,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.

Early warnings are crucial because solar storms have the potential to produce major disruptions to our infrastructure here on Earth.

An aurora as seen over the Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks, Alaska, on February 28, 2011. An aurora is caused when charged particles from the Sun, mainly electrons and protons, interact with the upper atmosphere. Credit: NOAA

The most severe solar storms start with a huge magnetic eruption on the Sun that is first seen as a solar flare. X-rays produced in the flare inflame the Earth’s ionosphere and can disrupt high-frequency radio communications like those used in commercial aviation to communicate with aircraft. The eruption can also cause a “coronal mass ejection,” sending enormous clouds of magnetic plasma that can cause strong electrical currents in the ionosphere and inside the Earth, disrupting electrical power grids, corroding gas and oil pipelines, and impeding the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) by search-and-rescue crews.

In 2013, a Lloyds of London study predicted that the most extreme space weather storms could affect 20 to 40 million people in the U.S. and cause up to $2.6 trillion in damages, with recovery taking up to two years.

Outside of our atmosphere, these solar storms can harm astronauts and the equipment they rely on to survive. In fact, in 1972 a solar flare came within months of disrupting the last two Apollo missions to the moon!

When explosions from the sun's outer atmosphere threaten Earth, forecasters at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center let vulnerable industries know what to expect.

In addition to its space weather instrument suite, DSCOVR is flying two NASA Earth-observing instruments, known as NISTAR and EPIC, which will gather a range of measurements, from ozone and aerosol amounts to changes in Earth's radiation. Daily views of Earth from NASA’s EPIC can be seen at http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov.

DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. NOAA is operating DSCOVR from its NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland, and will process the space weather data at SWPC in Boulder, Colorado. From there, the SWPC will distribute the DSCOVR data to users within the United States and around the world. The data will be archived at NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, also in Boulder.

NOAA funded NASA to refurbish the DSCOVR satellite and its solar wind instruments, develop the command and control portion of the ground segment, and manage the launch and activation of the satellite. The Air Force funded and managed the Falcon 9 launch services for DSCOVR. Data from the NASA-funded secondary sensors for Earth and space science observations will be processed at NASA’s DSCOVR Science Operations Center and archived and distributed by NASA’s Atmospheric Science Data Center.

Click here for more on the DSCOVR mission!

 


About the Mission

The Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, will maintain the nation's real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities
which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA's space weather alerts and forecasts. Without timely and accurate warnings, space weather events like the geomagnetic storms caused by changes in solar wind have the potential to disrupt nearly every major public infrastructure system, including power grids, telecommunications, aviation and GPS.

DSCOVR will succeed NASA's Advanced Composition Explore's (ACE) role in supporting solar wind alerts and warnings from the L1 orbit, the neutral gravity point between the Earth and sun approximately one million miles from Earth. L1 is a good position from which to monitor the sun, because the constant stream of particles from the sun (the solar wind) reaches L1 about an hour before reaching Earth.

From this position, DSCOVR will typically be able to provide 15 to 60 minute warning time before the surge of particles and magnetic field, known as a coronal mass ejection (or CME), associated with a geomagnetic storm reaches Earth. DSCOVR data will also be used to improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations. Our national security and economic well-being, which depend on advanced technologies, are at risk without these advanced warnings.

pdf iconProgram Overview Information Sheet [pdf]

News Updates

Daily Views of Earth Available on New NASA Website

An image of rotating earth.NASA launched a new website Monday so the world can see images of the full, sunlit side of the Earth every day. The images are taken by a NASA camera one million miles away on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force.

Once a day NASA will post at least a dozen new color images of Earth acquired from 12 to 36 hours earlier by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC). Each daily sequence of images will show the Earth as it rotates, thus revealing the whole globe over the course of a day. The new website also features an archive of EPIC images searchable by date and continent.

The primary objective of NOAA’s DSCOVR mission is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA. NASA has two Earth-observing instruments on the spacecraft. EPIC's images of Earth allow scientists to study daily variations over the entire globe in such features as vegetation, ozone, aerosols, and cloud height and reflectivity.

EPIC is a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope. The color Earth images are created by combining three separate single-color images to create a photographic-quality imageequivalent to a 12-megapixel camera. 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 to create the color images. Each image is about 3 megabytes in size. 

"The effective resolution of the DSCOVR EPIC camera is somewhere between 6.2 and 9.4 miles (10 and 15 kilometers)," said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Since Earth is extremely bright in the darkness of space, EPIC has to take very short exposure images (20-100 milliseconds). The much fainter stars are not visible in the background as a result of the short exposure times.

The DSCOVR spacecraft orbits around the L1 Lagrange point directly between Earth and the sun. This orbit keeps the spacecraft near the L1 point and requires only occasional small maneuvers, but its orbit can vary from 4 to 15 degrees away from the sun-Earth line over several years.

EPIC was built by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center, in Palo Alto, California. Using an 11.8-inch (30-centimeter) telescope and 2048 x 2048 CCD detector, EPIC measures in the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared areas of the spectrum. The data from all 10 wavelengths are posted through a website hosted by the Atmospheric Science Data Center at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. All images are in the public domain. 

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For daily images from EPIC, visit: http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/

For more information about the DSCOVR mission, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/

 

From a Million Miles Away,
NASA Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of Earth

A NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a unique view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth last month. The series of test images shows the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.

The images were captured by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on the DSCOVR satellite orbiting 1 million miles from Earth. From its position between the sun and Earth, DSCOVR conducts its primary mission of real-time solar wind monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read more

NASA Satellite Camera Provides “EPIC” View of Earth

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.

The color images of Earth from NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a photographic-quality image. 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 Earth images.

Read more



Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space reaches final orbit

More than 100 days after it launched, NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has reached its orbit position about one million miles from Earth.

Once final instrument checks are completed, DSCOVR, which will provide improved measurements of solar wind conditions to enhance NOAA’s ability to warn of potentially harmful solar activity, will be the nation’s first operational space weather satellite in deep space. Its orbit between Earth and the sun is at a location called the Lagrange point 1, or L1, which gives DSCOVR a unique vantage point to see the Earth and sun.

Read more


On June 20, 2013, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft captured this coronal mass ejection (CME). A solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. Credit NASA.


DSCOVR has reached the halfway mark to the L1 position

In just 12 days after it launched, NOAA's DSCOVR satellite has reached the halfway mark to the L1 position. In 12 days, DSCOVR has traveled approximately 0.8M kilometers. However, just as a ball loses speed at the top of its arc, DSCOVR is losing speed.

As DSCOVR moves further away from the earth, the sun's gravity comes into play and bends the trajectory. This results in curved trajectory versus a "straight-line" approach. It will take DSCOVR another 100 days to travel the remaining distance to L1. This will put the expected arrival time of DSCOVR at L1 around the beginning of June. More DSCOVR News »


DSCOVR just after launch


DSCOVR Successfully Launched

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 11, 2015. Read more...


DSCOVR Briefing from Kennedy Space Center


NASA schedules briefing on launch of NOAA space weather mission

DSCOVR Logo

NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission is the focus of a NASA televised news conference at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, Feb. 7. The briefing will be held at the Kennedy Space Center Press Site and streamed live on NASA's website.Watch the launch live on NASA Television. Coverage begins at 3:30pm EST on launch day, February 8, 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv.


NOAA's DSCOVR: Offering A New View of the Solar Wind

DSCOVR Instruments

Three instruments will help measure the solar wind on the DSCOVR mission: (shown from left to right), the Faraday cup to monitor the speed and direction of positively-charged solar wind particles, the electron spectrometer to monitor electrons, and a magnetometer to measure magnetic fields. Image Credit: NASA/DSCOVR

There's a fascinating spot some 932,000 miles away from Earth where the gravity between the sun and Earth is perfectly balanced. This spot captures the attention of orbital engineers because a satellite can orbit this spot, called Lagrange 1 just as they can orbit a planet. But the spot tantalizes scientists as well: Lagrange 1 lies outside Earth's magnetic environment, a perfect place to measure the constant stream of particles from the sun, known as the solar wind, as they pass by.
Read More...


NASA Kennedy Space Center Launches Photo Page for NOAA DSCOVR

Kennedy has activated their photo page for NOAA's DSCOVR mission in preparation for the launch.
View the photo page...


DSCOVR Ready to Spread its Wings

Workers conduct a light test on the solar arrays on NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, in the Building 1 high bay at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near NASA's Kennedy Space Center.


Q & A on NOAA's DSCOVR Mission

Workers remove the plastic cover from NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, in the high bay of Building 1 at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: NASA Kennedy Space Center

NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Feb. 8 at 6:10 p.m. EDT and is a joint mission with NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Recently, the following representatives from each partner agency provided answers to questions: Doug Whiteley, deputy director, Office of Systems Development, NOAA's Satellite and Information Service; Douglas Biesecker, DSCOVR program scientist, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center; and Richard Eckman, NASA DSCOVR program scientist. Read More...



Preparing DSCOVR for Launch

Preparations to launch NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, near completion in the Building 1 high bay of the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA


NOAA's DSCOVR NISTAR Instrument Watches Earth's "Budget"

The NISTAR instrument that will fly aboard NOAA's space weather-observing spacecraft called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), is going to measure the Earth's radiation budget.
Read More...


NOAA's DSCOVR to Provide "EPIC" Views of Earth

The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on DSCOVR will image the Earth in one picture, something that hasn't been done before from a satellite.
Read More...


NASA Media Accreditation Now Open for Deep Space Climate Observatory (NASA Kennedy Product)

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has opened accreditation for news media to attend the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Jan. 23, 2015
Read More...


Unwrapping DSCOVR for the New Year

NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR is being unwrapped for the New Year and prepared for launch. In this photo, DSCOVR, wrapped in plastic, comes into view as the protective shipping container is lifted from around the spacecraft at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA


DSCOVR readies for launch next month

NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), scheduled to launch in five weeks.
Read More...


DSCOVR Mission's EPIC - Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera

EPIC instrument views the entire sunlit face of the Earth from sunrise to sunset in 10 narrowband channels, from ultraviolet to near infrared. These measurements can be used to determine ozone, aerosols, cloud heights, dust, volcanic ash. Photo credit: NASA
Learn more about DSCOVR instruments at: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/spacecraft.html



DSCOVR Mission's NISTAR: NIST Advanced Radiometer

NISTAR is a cavity radiometer designed to measure the reflected and emitted energy in four broadband channels from the entire sunlit face of Earth to help improve understanding of the effects of changes in Earth's radiation budget. NISTAR will fly aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, spacecraft, scheduled for a 2015 launch. Photo credit: NASA
Learn more about DSCOVR instruments at: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/spacecraft.html



DSCOVR Satellite Arrives in Florida for Launch

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The truck delivering NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, enclosed in a protective shipping container, backs up to the door of the airlock of Building 2 at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, near Kennedy Space Center. DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. DSCOVR will maintain the nation's real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA's space weather alerts and forecasts. Launch is currently scheduled for January 2015 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 v 1.1 launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

To follow the latest news about the DSCOVR mission, check back to this page regularly or visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/news_archives




DSCOVR mission passes major milestones

DSCOVR satellite at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Md., waits to be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The upcoming Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a satellite designed to monitor and warn of harmful solar activity that could impact Earth, recently cleared two major reviews and remains on track to launch January 23, 2015.

Passing the Pre-ship Review confirmed the satellite's hardware and software was ready to be transported to the launch site at Cape Canaveral, Fla. DSCOVR arrived in Florida today (November 20). Clearing the Operational Readiness Review certified DSCOVR had a successful assessment of its ground system readiness, flight concept of operations, project management, operations and sustainment plans, safety and mission assurance, system design, technical management, training and product validation.

NOAA will manage the DSCOVR mission, giving advanced warning of approaching solar storms. NASA, funded by NOAA, refurbished the DSCOVR satellite and instruments, which were in storage for several years. The U.S. Air Force is funding and overseeing the launch of DSCOVR, which will be aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

To follow the latest news about the DSCOVR mission, check back to this page regularly or visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/news_archives

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr



DSCOVR Mission Hosts Two NASA Earth-Observing Instruments

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a mission lead by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA and the U.S. Air Force, will collect space weather measurements to enable space weather forecasting by NOAA. The satellite is planned for launch in January 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex in Florida.

In addition to the space weather instruments, NASA is providing two Earth-observing instruments on the spacecraft, the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR).

DSCOVR (formerly known as Triana) was originally conceived in the late 1990s as a NASA Earth science mission that would provide a near continuous view of Earth and measure Earth's albedo. Triana was canceled and the satellite went into storage in 2001.

NOAA funded NASA to remove DSCOVR from storage and test it in 2008. The same year, the Committee on Space Environmental Sensor Mitigation Options (an interagency assessment requested by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) determined that DSCOVR was the optimal solution for meeting NOAA and U.S. Air Force space weather requirements.

NOAA is responsible for the DSCOVR mission, providing program management, spacecraft operation and distribution of all mission data. NOAA funded NASA to refurbish the spacecraft, recalibrate the space weather sensors, prepare the spacecraft for launch; develop the ground systems and operations; and provide technical management of the space segment. DSCOVR will succeed NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer's (ACE) role in supporting solar wind alerts and warnings from NOAA.

In 2012, NASA brought the spacecraft out of storage at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where the spacecraft was originally built. NASA inspected the instruments, tested the mechanisms, provided new electrical components and conducted environmental tests of the observatory.

In addition, NASA funded the refurbishment and recalibration of the two Earth science instruments and is supporting the analysis of their data. The U.S. Air Force will provide the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle through their launch services contract with SpaceX.

NASA Earth Science Instruments

DSCOVR will make unique space measurements from the first sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1). The L1 point is on the direct line between Earth and the sun located 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) sunward from Earth, and is a neutral gravity point between Earth and the sun. The spacecraft will be orbiting this point in a six-month orbit with a spacecraft-Earth-sun angle varying between 4 and 15 degrees.

This L1 vantage point offers a continuous view of the entire sunlit half of Earth in a "snapshot," as opposed to other Earth observing satellites situated closer to Earth that capture an image strip that is later "stitched" together.

The NASA Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) instrument provides spectral images of the entire sunlit face of Earth, as viewed from an orbit around L1. EPIC is able to view the entire sunlit Earth from sunrise to sunset.

EPIC's observations will provide a unique angular perspective, and will be used in science applications to measure ozone and aerosol amounts, cloud height, vegetation properties and ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth. The data from EPIC will be used by NASA for a number of Earth science developments including dust and volcanic ash maps of the entire Earth.

EPIC makes images of the sunlit face of the Earth in 10 narrowband spectral channels. As part of EPIC data processing, a full disk true color Earth image will be produced about every two hours. This information will be publicly available through NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, approximately 24 hours after the images are acquired.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) is the other DSCOVR NASA instrument, a cavity radiometer designed to measure the reflected and emitted energy (in the 0.2 to 100 micron range) from the entire sunlit face of Earth. This measurement is intended to improve understanding of the effects of changes in Earth's radiation budget caused by human activities and natural phenomena.

The information from NISTAR can be used for climate science applications. NISTAR will measure the amount of reflected sunlight and the thermal radiation of Earth in the direction towards the sun. These quantities are key ingredients of current climate models.

The NASA-Sponsored Earth Science Research

NASA's Science Mission Directorate selected the following proposals for the development of algorithms for the Earth-observing EPIC and NISTAR instruments on DSCOVR.

Accurate Ozone Product from EPIC
Research Lead Richard McPeters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will research methods to accurately capture short-term changes in the distribution of tropospheric ozone driven by geochemical and geophysical processes.

Volcanic Sulfur Dioxide and Ash Products from EPIC
Research Lead Nickolay Krotkov, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will implement algorithms to enable sulfur dioxide and ash index products from EPIC ultraviolet observations.

Hourly Global Aerosol Index and Aerosol Particle Properties Using EPIC
EPIC Research Lead Omar Torres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will develop absorbing aerosol index and above-cloud-aerosol optical depth products.

Atmospheric Correction of EPIC Measurements
Research Lead Alexei Lyapustin, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will develop atmospheric correction algorithm to provide spectral surface reflectance. As a byproduct, he will also provide internal cloud mask and aerosol optical thickness.

Earth System Data Records of Global Vegetation Index, Fraction of Absorbed PAR, Leaf Area and Its Sunlit Fraction
Research Lead Yuri Knyazikhin, Boston University, will provide global data records of normalized difference vegetation index, fraction of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by green leaves, leaf area and its sunlit fraction.

EPIC Cloud Algorithms
Research Lead Yuekui Yang, Universities Space Research Association, will develop a suite of algorithms for generating the operational EPIC cloud mask, cloud height and cloud optical thickness products.

Global Total Ozone and Volcanic Sulfur Dioxide Products from EPIC
Research Lead Kai Yang, University of Maryland at College Park, will produce total ozone and sulfur dioxide vertical columns, ultraviolet reflectivity and ultraviolet aerosol index products from EPIC ultraviolet measurements.

Enhancements and Maintenance of EPIC Level 1 Calibration
Research Lead Alexander Cede, SciGlob Instruments & Services, LLC, will develop products to improve the pre-launch calibration and stray light correction of EPIC based on proper analysis of in-flight data in combination with re-analysis of pre-launch data.

Determining the Daytime Global Radiation Budget from DSCOVR
Research Lead Patrick Minnis, NASA Langley Research Center, will develop a system that provides a global daytime Earth's radiation budget with accuracy better than 1.5 percent using both EPIC and NISTAR measurements.



DSCOVR poised for liftoff, extending critical space weather alerts, forecasts

With the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite mission in early 2015, the United States will extend its ability to give accurate warnings of solar activity that could potentially wreak havoc throughout society and the economy on Earth.

The refrigerator-sized satellite is scheduled to soar into orbit in early 2015 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

DSCOVR, a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force, will orbit the sun at the L1 libration point - a stable point in space, where gravitational forces of Earth and the sun are in equilibrium - approximately one million miles away from Earth toward the sun. From the L1 location, the satellite's sensors can detect solar storms before their impacts reach Earth. The satellite will also host NASA-funded secondary sensors for Earth and space science observations.

DSCOVR Satellite (credit NASA)

NOAA will manage the DSCOVR mission, giving advanced warning of approaching solar storms with the potential to cripple electrical grids, disrupt communication systems, throw off GPS navigation, reroute air travel, affect satellite operations and endanger human spaceflight. According to a National Research Council Report (See "Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report" [2008]), damages from the most extreme solar storms could range between $1 trillion-$2 trillion within the first year and four to 10 years for full recovery.

"We must always stay on top of developing solar storm activity and provide accurate, timely forecasts," said Mike Simpson, the DSCOVR program manager at NOAA. "DSCOVR will extend our capability to do that."

Currently, NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), launched in 1997, is the only spacecraft providing solar storm data to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colorado, for operational short-term warnings of solar storms. It is also stationed at the L1 point, giving forecasters data on approaching solar events. However, ACE is operating 10+ years beyond its design life.

DSCOVR observations will typically enable SWPC to provide 15 to 60 minute warning lead times before the impact of a solar storm hits Earth, which is similar to what ACE currently provides.

"The instruments on DSCOVR will improve upon what we have with ACE, as they will continue to operate even during severe space weather storms. The DSCOVR data will also be used to drive the next generation of space weather models, allowing forecasters to specify where on Earth the storm conditions will be at their worst," said Doug Biesecker, DSCOVR program scientist at SWPC.

Formerly known as Triana, DSCOVR was initially planned in the late 1990s as a NASA Earth science mission that would image Earth in 10 spectral bands and measure how much energy was being reflected and emitted from Earth. Seven years later, NOAA and the Air Force worked with NASA to remove DSCOVR from storage so the spacecraft and instruments could be tested to verify their flight readiness.

NOAA funded NASA to refurbish the DSCOVR satellite and instruments. The U.S. Air Force is funding and overseeing the launch of the spacecraft.

In the fall of 2013, after a period of testing and other technical inspections, NOAA and NASA confirmed DSCOVR could meet requirements within its planned life cycle cost and projected schedule. Then the DSCOVR program received full funding with the FY 2014 appropriations.

"That [full funding] allowed us to maintain our current schedule for launch," Simpson said. He added the last steps before launch include the completion of the spacecraft environmental testing, testing of the ground system, and delivery of the launch vehicle.

"After that's done, it's go for launch," Simpson said.

NOAA's Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland, will manage DSCOVR operations, and the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, will process and distribute its data to users within the United States and around the world.