Readers are probably familiar with the NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, launched earlier this year. Its primary mission is to monitor the Sun's 'weather' conditions, so that advance warning can be given of solar storms and eruptions that may affect our planet. You can read more about it at the project's Web site. Here's a NOAA video describing its mission.
However, the satellite also carries sensors to observe our planet from a million miles away, where DSCOVR is 'parked'. One of them is NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC). Its first image of Earth has just been released - and it's a lulu! Click the picture to be taken to its Web page, where you can magnify it to full size.
NASA said in its press release:
These initial Earth images show the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules, giving the images a characteristic bluish tint. The EPIC team now is working on a rendering of these images that emphasizes land features and removes this atmospheric effect. Once the instrument begins regular data acquisition, new images will be available every day, 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired by EPIC. These images will be posted to a dedicated web page by September.
"The high quality of the EPIC images exceeded all of our expectations in resolution," said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "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."
There's more at the link.
I find it very fitting that the picture was released on the anniversary of the first steps by human beings on the Moon, during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. I guess DSCOVR is another 'small step for man' in space.