Al Gore's Space Dream Fulfilled — Daily Streaming of Planet Earth

Al Gore's Space Dream Fulfilled — Daily Streaming of Planet Earth

At long last, a goal established by Vice President Al Gore in the 1990s has been fulfilled.  Today NASA opened a new website that will show constant photos of planet Earth from the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange point (SEL-1) taken by a camera aboard the DSCOVR spacecraft.

Gore’s plan was just that — a spacecraft whose primary purpose was to make pictures of Earth constantly available to the public to highlight its fragility and the need to take care of the environment.  The spacecraft was named Triana after a sailor,
Rodrigo de Triana, on one of Columbus’ ships who first spotted North

The spacecraft was built and ready for launch by the end of
Clinton-Gore Administration, but then fell victim to politics. 
Derisively called “Goresat,” it was put into storage in 2001 when George
W. Bush became President following the bitter 2000 Gore-Bush
presidential election.

Originally, Triana was an earth observing spacecraft with Gore’s
camera — Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) — and a radiometer
to measure Earth’s albedo as the primary instruments.  Two space weather
instruments were also included as secondary payloads.   At the time,
space weather observations were provided by NASA’s relatively new
Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE).   As the years passed, however, it
became apparent that a replacement for ACE would be needed.   In 2008,
NOAA successfully argued for Triana to be brought out of storage,
refurbished and launched with a role reversal where space weather would
be the primary mission and earth observations secondary.

Agreement was reached where NOAA would pay NASA tor refurbishing the
spacecraft and the two space weather instruments (NASA is NOAA’s
spacecraft acquisition agent), NASA would pay to refurbish the two earth
observation instruments, and the Air Force, which also needs space
weather forecasts, would pay for the launch.  NOAA renamed it the Deep Space Climate Observatory — DSCOVR.

Launched on February 11, 2015, it took 110 days for DSCOVR to reach SEL-1, just under 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth.   Since then, the spacecraft and instruments have been undergoing check-out. 

Finally today, NASA announced the availability of a website that fulfills Gore’s dream.  NASA will post at least a dozen pictures of the sunlit side of Earth each day taken by the EPIC camera 12-36 hours earlier. The resolution of the images is 6.2-9.4 miles (10-15 kilometers).  Today there are 19 images and clicking “play” in the upper left hand corner will show the globe turning on its axis.

North and South America, as seen by the EPIC camera on the NASA-NOAA-Air Force Deep Space Climate Observatory
(DSCOVR) spacecraft, October 2015.   Photo credit: NASA

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