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Landsat 7 Suomi NPP SMAP OCO-2

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An EPIC View of Earth and the Far Side of the Moon
PDF icon DSCOVR_Lenticular_8_508.pdf

On July 16, 2015, a NASA camera onboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite returned a series of images of the entire sunlit side of Earth and the moon from its orbit at the first Lagrange point (L1)—a neutral gravity point between Earth and the sun, which is about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth. These images from the series, taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) between 3:50 PM and 8:45 PM EDT, show the fully illuminated far side of the moon moving over the Pacific Ocean near North America. Also referred to as the “dark side,” this side of the moon is not visible from Earth. The far side lacks the large, dark, basaltic plains, or maria, that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side. The largest far side maria is the Mare Moscoviense [~170 miles (245 kilometers) in diameter] in the upper left quadrant. As the DSCOVR spacecraft slowly orbits around L1 (always viewing the sunlit side of Earth), the area of reflected sunlight near the center of the globe remains stationary, while the moon crosses the face of the Earth’s surface and Earth appears to rotate from left (west) to right (east). The North Pole is in the upper left quadrant of the globe. The primary objective of DSCOVR—a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Air Force—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.

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Earth System Ruler
PDF icon Ruler_508.pdf

Like the human body, Earth comprises diverse processes and systems that interact with one another in complex ways. The purpose of NASA’s Earth science program is to advance our scientific understanding of Earth as an integrated system and its response to natural and human-induced changes. NASA works with its domestic and international partners to support a large number of Earth-observing satellite and airborne missions to observe and understand our planet on global and regional scales. These missions are able to collect measurements of surface temperature, winds, water vapor, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, ocean salinity, and other aspects of the environment. While scientists learn a great deal from studying individual phenomena, improved observational capabilities, coupled with process-level and global numerical models increasingly allow them to study component system interactions, leading to unprecedented insight into how Earth functions as one integrated system of systems.

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