Sometimes, we forget that we’re all just teeny, tiny fragments of life floating through outer space.
No, let’s be honest: we forget that a lot.
There’s nothing more effective at bringing us back to reality than images of space and the blue planet we call Earth.
Now, everyone will have access to images of the planet on a daily basis later this year, thanks to a spacecraft called the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR for short.
The Birth of Triana
Strangely enough, Former Vice President Al Gore is responsible for proposing the idea for DSCOVR back in 1998. His original plan was to send a probe to an area millions of miles away from Earth so we could take pictures of it in its entirety. NASA loved the idea of the probe, which was named Triana, However, they wanted to add more than just a camera. In the end, NASA added tools that could measure solar wind and radiant energy coming from Earth.
However, you might assume how the rest of the story goes, knowing that Gore lost his presidential election to George W. Bush in 2000. The Triana project was put on hold, and the probe itself was placed into storage.
But if you like comeback stories, start smiling in anticipation.
The Evolution of DSCOVR
In 2009, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration decided to look for a new space weather satellite, and Triana was brought out of storage. After a tune-up, Triana was renamed DSCOVR and prepared for launch.
And guess who was the happiest of them all?
Gore, of course. He even made it a point to be there for the launch on Feb. 11. But it isn’t just the former presidential candidate who should be excited for DSCOVR — Americans should be, too.
It’s easy to be disillusioned by all of the technology we have at our fingertips today. For instance, Google Earth has made it possible to view satellite images of the world’s seven wonders from the comfort of your own home. However, there’s something raw and genuine about daily images of our planet — the place we call home, but forget to recognize as a vast, glowing planet hovering in space.
Even those who don’t have a passion for science can have an appreciation for the photos captured by DSCOVR. Isn’t that more than we can say for many of the gadgets and conveniences we have in our lives?
- NOAA Satellite and Information Service, 2015, NOAA.gov.
- Palca, Joe. “Satellite Set to Stream Daily Images of Earth From Space,” Feb. 6, 2015, NPR.
- “DSCOVR Launch a Success!,” Feb. 11, 2015, Earth Sky Magazine.