This week NASA released new photographs from the DSCOVR satellite launched Feb.11 from Cape Canaveral. DSCOVR, or Deep Space Climate Observatory, is a NOAA Earth observation and space weather satellite. DSCOVR arrived at the L1 Lagrangian point, roughly 1 million miles from Earth, on June 5 and part of its mission is to photograph Earth and transmit images every two hours.
DSCOVR is the result of work initiated in 1998 by then vice president Al Gore. We take for granted the images of the fully illuminated Earth, but for most of the last 35 years, it has been the same set of images taken Dec. 7, 1972 by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft.
Senator Ted Cruz, chair of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on space, science and competitiveness which funds NASA, has said NASA should spend less time studying the planet and more time finding ways to go out into space. Cruz views much of Earth study as “political distractions that are extraneous to NASA’s mandate.”
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden begs to differ.
“Our core mission from the very beginning has been to investigate, explore space and the Earth environment, and to help us make this place a better place,” Bolden said. “It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place that we have to live. Science helps exploration; exploration helps science.”
Whatever one thinks about the politics of NASA, the new images coming from DSCOVR remind us Earth is our only home, and there is no Planet B.
~ Written for Blog for Iowa