According to a recent announcement, NASA plans to post at least 12 EPIC images of Earth daily on a newly-launched website. The images, which will show our planet’s sunlit side, will be taken by a space weather satellite from a distance of 1 million miles or 1.6 million km.
The satellite is called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), while the photos will be taken by the camera mounted on it – the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC).
DSCOVR is a joint project of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designed to measure space weather such as solar radiation and changes in the magnetic field that can jam communications systems on Earth.
DSCOVR was placed in space with help from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket early this year. It is now located at Lagrangian Point 1 where gravitational interference from our planet and the Sun prevent it from drifting away in the empty space.
NASA recently said that the photos on the new site would show Earth rotating over a 24-hour period in color. Visitors on the website will also have access to an archive of EPIC photos which can be searched by date
EPIC is a state-of-the-art camera abroad of the NASA/NOAA weather satellite that can snap 10 different aspects of a single object in different wavelengths ranging from UV to near infrared.
NASA explained that the space camera uses a short exposure of 20 to 100 milliseconds because by contrast with the dark background our planet is extremely bright. Nevertheless, because of short exposure the stars won’t be visible on the images.
Each photo is taken at a 6.2 to 9.4 mile resolution, and it has the same quality of a 12 megapixel image (the same result you would get with an iPhone 6 camera, for instance). Each photo is a combination of three different types of exposures, NASA stated.
DSCOVR is now monitoring solar winds and flares directed toward our planet. These phenomena shower Earth with plasma and charged particles that can impair satellite and ground communications systems. Yet, they can also have other effects such as beautiful polar auroras.
On the other hand, not all satellites are disrupted by solar radiation. It depends on its intensity. So, DSCOVR was designed to help NASA researchers issue predictions about the effects of solar winds on our communications systems.
Nevertheless, NASA plans to post at least 12 EPIC images of Earth daily to also help experts keep an eye on daily changes in cloud density, ozone, aerosols and vegetation on our planet.
Image Source: Flickr