Earth has a new formal portrait. Taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), this photo is the first image of Earth sent back from the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, which NASA released earlier today. EPIC is the first device on a satellite capable of taking an image of the entire Earth in one picture.
“The high quality of the EPIC images exceeded all of our expectations in resolution,” Adam Szabo, a DSCOVR project scientist said in a press release. “The images clearly show desert sand structures, river systems and complex cloud patterns. There will be a huge wealth of new data for scientists to explore.”
Since 1972, when Apollo 17 astronauts snapped the iconic “Blue Marble” image, NASA and other space agencies have captured innumerable views of our planet. The Voyager spacecraft took the famous “Pale Blue Dot” picture from 4 billion miles away in 1990.
DSCOVR is much closer, situated 1 million miles from Earth at the first Lagrange point — a location that allows the satellite to maintain a steady orbit between the Earth and the sun. From that vantage point, DSCOVR will monitor the climate of earth, allowing scientists to track everything from ozone levels, vegetation, and even clouds of volcanic ash after an eruption.
We can expect to see more images like this in the future. NASA plans to upload new images to a dedicated website every day starting in September, when DSCOVR will be taking regular images of Earth.