DSCOVR satellite captures image of moon as it moves in front of earth

DSCOVR satellite captures image of moon as it moves in front of earth

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite for the second in a year has captured an image that shows the moon as it moves in front of the sunlit side of earth. The event was recorded on July 5 with the same level of resolution as the first photo bomb of last year.

Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said that it has happened again with DSCOVR that the moon came in between the spacecraft and earth. Using NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), the new photo bomb image was captured.

EPIC, a four-megapixel CCD camera and telescope on DSCOVR satellite, keeps a constant tab on the illuminated earth as it rotates. EPIC provides scientific observations of ozone, vegetation and clouds among other things.

The latest images were taken between July 4 at 11:50pm and July 5 EDT. And, the last time, EPIC captured the same event was between 3.50 pm and 8.45 pm EDT on July 16, 2015. The new images were taken about 30 seconds apart.

Main aim of DSCOVR is to provide early warning for potentially dangerous space weather events. In order to accomplish its mission, DSCOVR has been placed in a unique location known as the sun-Earth Lagrange point 1 or L1. Also, it is in a complex, non-recurring orbit that changes from an ellipse to a circle and back taking the spacecraft between four and 12 degrees from the sun-earth line. It is the point between earth and sun where earth’s gravity pull is equal and opposite to the gravity pull from the sun.

The satellite stays within the L1 orbit as earth moves around the sun. It is at this location that the moon can be seen crossing earth’s face from DSCOVR’s perspective just once or twice a year. In March, EPIC has also captured a unique view of solar eclipse.

EPIC’s natural color images of earth are generated through combining three different monochrome exposures taken by the camera. Using different narrowband spectral filters, EPIC takes a series of 10 images from ultraviolet to near infrared and produce a variety of science products.

EPIC continuously points towards earth and provides the data. On the other side of the satellite, there is one more instrument that point towards the sun and provides measurements of solar particles. It is vital to keep a tab on solar weather to keep astronauts and technology safe from highly energetic particles that are ejected from the sun.

These particles can lead to harmless events known as auroras, but are also capable of causing severe damage to technology and harmful for people living in space. With the help of DSCOVR, scientists can have better understanding on how solar activity affects environment in and around earth.

NOAA uses DSCOVR to monitor the sun and inform the government and commercial satellite owners if a solar storm in coming their way. DSCOVR is a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the US Air Force with above mentioned motive.

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