A newly released survey from Pew Research Center suggests that Americans still strongly support the space program, 60 years after NASA’s founding, but that they’re more interested in Earth science than exploration beyond Earth orbit.
That’s a turnabout from the broad strokes of White House policy, which has tried to downplay Earth observation and talk up the idea of sending Americans to the moon and Mars.
Despite that dissonance, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine welcomed the findings from Pew Research Center’s survey. When reporters told him that 63 percent said monitoring key parts of Earth’s climate system should be a top priority for NASA, Bridenstine reportedly answered, “Good.”
It’s been a year since NASA unveiled the first image of Earth’s sunlit side captured by the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, and to celebrate the occasion, you can see an entire year’s worth of DSCOVR’s view in less than three minutes.
The scientists behind DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, assembled more than 3,000 images to create this week’s video clip.
“The colors shown are our best estimate of what a human sitting at the location of EPIC would see,” EPIC lead scientist Jay Herman says during the video.
DSCOVR keeps watch on our planet from a gravitationally stable vantage point known as Earth-Sun L1, about a million miles above the planet. The DSCOVR mission started out in 1998 as the brainchild of then-Vice President Al Gore, who loved the idea of having a satellite that could provide a continuous full-disk view of our home planet.
REDMOND, Wash. – Planetary Resources was founded as an asteroid mining company, but a fresh infusion of $21.1 million in investment puts the emphasis on a space frontier that’s closer to home: Earth observation.
“It leverages everything that we have been working on for the last several years … and it moves us forward in the direction of asteroid prospecting,” Planetary Resources’ president and CEO, Chris Lewicki, said this week during a tour of the company’s Redmond headquarters.
The Series A funding announced today will be used to deploy and operate Planetary Resources’ Earth observation program,known as Ceres. The lead investor is the OS Fund, founded by Los Angeles venture capitalist Bryan Johnson. Other investors include Idea Bulb Ventures, Vast Ventures, Grishin Robotics, Conversion Capital, the Seraph Group, Space Angels Network and Google co-founder Larry Page.
In a statement, Johnson said Ceres will represent “a seismic shift for the new space economy.”
The perspective from DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (a.k.a. EPIC), captured on July 16, provides a topsy-turvy view: Here we’re seeing the moon’s far side, which earthbound skywatchers can never observe. And although it looks like a full moon, on Earth the moon was in its totally dark, “new” phase.
Launched in February, DSCOVR is a joint mission of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the twin objectives of making climate observations and keeping watch for incoming solar storms.
The Earth-watching part of the mission follows through on an idea put forward by Vice President Al Gore back in the 1990s – and the former veep was obviously tickled to see the latest pictures released from NASA’s lockbox: