Press Kit

DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory

DSCOVR Quick Facts

CONTACT: John Leslie

Scheduled launch date and location:
February 2015 from Cape Canaveral, FL
MissionJoint mission between NOAA, NASA, and U.S. Air Force
Spacecraft 570 kg at launch, 54 inches by 72 inches
Launch vehicle SpaceX Falcon 9 v 1.1 provided by U.S. Air Force
Primary InstrumentsSolar Wind Plasma Sensor and Magnetometer (PlasMag), National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR), Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), Electron Spectrometer (ES), Pulse Height Analyzer (PHA)
Orbit L1 (Lagrangian point 1) orbit, about 1 million miles from Earth
Primary MeasurementsSolar wind observations, including velocity distribution and magnetic field
Observational Mitigation Replaces NASA's ACE satellite, which was launched in 1997
Benefits Supports a 15 - 60 min lead time on geomagnetic storm warnings; these storms, often caused by solar wind, can disrupt transportation, power grids, telecommunications and GPS.


General Information Sheets
pdf iconDSCOVR Fact Sheet [pdf]
pdf iconDSCOVR Quick Reference [pdf]
pdf iconProgram Overview [pdf]
pdf iconGlossary of Terms [pdf]

Instrument Information Sheets
pdf iconPlasMag [pdf]
pdf iconNISTAR [pdf]
pdf iconEPIC [pdf]

NOAA DSCOVR Flickr Album »
NASA DSCOVR Flickr Album »

DSCOVR Mission Overview »
Technicians stowing the DSCOVR solar arrays after a deployment test »

L1 Orbit Diagram [png]
DSCOVR Satellite Rendering [png]


.tif (hi-res)
2085px X 1322px; 8mb

.png (transparent background)
600px X 380px; 307kb

.jpg / .jpg (black background)
600px X 380px; 79kb

Media Contacts

John Leslie
NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service
Silver Spring, Md.

Stephen E. Cole
NASA Office of Communications
Washington, D.C.

Capt. Eric Bunnell
U.S. Air Force, Kirtland AFB
Albuquerque, NM

Background Information

Why study solar wind?

Solar wind is the constant stream of charged particles and magnetic fields emitted from the sun. The sun’s corona is the source of solar wind. Solar wind carries with it a sheet of plasma surrounding a stretched, distorted magnetic fold that generates, roughly, from the sun’s magnetic equator. Geomagnetic storms affect Earth’s magnetic field and are often caused by solar wind shock waves or magnetic field.

Like terrestrial weather in Earth’s atmosphere, space weather refers to conditions, like solar wind, in the solar system and particularly in near-Earth space. Space weather events can cause geomagnetic storms that may cause damage to power grids and satellites, and impact GPS and communications on Earth.

Solar wind observations are the only data source to support 15 to 45 minute lead time for geomagnetic storm warnings. Without timely and accurate alerts and warnings, space weather has demonstrated the potential to disrupt virtually every major public infrastructure system, including transportation, power grids, telecommunications and GPS. NOAA will provide these critical services by supplying geomagnetic storm warnings to support key industries such as the commercial airline, electric power and GPS industries.

NOAA scientists expect great improvement in geomagnetic storm forecasts by combining DSCOVR data with a model of the Earth’s magnetosphere. Using this model with upstream data from DSCOVR will provide regional forecasts of geomagnetic storms. NOAA will have this capability later in 2015, shortly after DSCOVR reaches its final orbit at L1.

Mission Overview

Space Segment Details:
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 the Earth and measure the Earth’s complete albedo. The mission was canceled and the satellite was put into storage at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 2001. NOAA and the USAF had DSCOVR removed from storage and tested in 2008, and the same year the Committee on Space Environmental Sensor Mitigation Options (CSESMO) determined that DSCOVR was the optimal solution for meeting NOAA and USAF space weather requirements.

DSCOVR will be approximately 570 kg at launch and has dimensions of 54 inches by 72 inches. It will carry the following instruments:

  • Solar Wind Plasma Sensor (Faraday Cup) and Magnetometer (PlasMag): Measures solar wind velocity distribution and the magnitude and direction of the Earth’s geomagnetic field to provide rapid warning of solar flares and other extreme solar events
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR): Measures whole absolute irradiance integrated over the sunlit face of the Earth for climate science applications
  • Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC): Provides images of the sunlit side of the Earth for science applications such as ozone, aerosols and clouds
  • Electron Spectrometer (ES): Provides high temporal resolution (< 1 sec) solar wind observations. Capable of monitoring higher velocity solar wind events than the Faraday Cup
  • Pulse Height Analyzer (PHA): Provides real-time measurements of particle events that may impact DSCOVR’s electronics

Ground Segment Details:
NOAA will operate DSCOVR from its NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. and distribute the data to its users and partner agencies. NOAA will process the space weather data, providing products and forecasts through the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. and archive the data at the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colo. NASA is responsible for processing the Earth sensor data.

Acquisition Details:
NOAA is responsible for the DSCOVR mission, providing program management, operating the spacecraft, and distributing all mission data. NOAA is funding NASA to refurbish the spacecraft and space weather sensors and to provide technical management of the space segment. NASA is funding the refurbishment of the Earth science instruments and supports the analysis of their data. The USAF will provide the launch vehicle and launch services.

Legacy and the L1 Orbit

At the Lagrangian point 1 (or L1), approximately one million miles from Earth, the gravitational forces between the sun and Earth are balanced, which provides for a stable orbit that requires fewer orbital corrections for the spacecraft to remain in its operational location for a longer period of time. Placing DSCOVR in orbit around the L1 point provides definite advantages, including the quality of the solar wind observations.

The L1 position will provide DSCOVR with a point of "early warning" when a surge of particles and magnetic field from the sun will hit Earth and if they have characteristics that will cause a geomagnetic storm for Earth. Although there are a few NASA satellites currently orbiting L1 (such as ACE, Wind and SOHO), DSCOVR will be the first NOAA mission to L1.

DSCOVR is expected to succeed NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite, which was launched in 1997 and is well beyond its expected life. ACE solar wind observations are used by the NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center to produce geomagnetic storm warnings. SOHO in L1 orbit has a different mission that provides different data sets and solar products.