On Monday, NASA launched a new website that offers images of Earth as new as this morning.
Named EPIC, for the camera which produces the images, the website shows off the full view of the earth as it appears from space, rotating and sunlit. It’s all thanks to the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite, floating a million miles away, snapping away photos of Earth and studying the atmospheric and weather changes on our planet.
Sitting at the Observatory is the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC, which takes more than a dozen color images of Earth over every 12 to 36 hour period. NASA uploads these images to the new site and allows visitors to see the entire planet as it looks over the course of a day. Users can also dig through an archive of older images taken by EPIC.
A four-megapixel camera, the EPIC takes about 10 different kinds of images using a variety of narrowband filters, from ultraviolet to near infrared. The single-color images between are combined together to create the color images you see on the DSCOVR:EPIC website.
We’re a long way from the iconic Earthrise photograph taken by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders in 1968. Now with DSCOVR:EPIC, you’re just a few clicks from seeing a high-resolution blue dot fill your screen spin around like a stop-motion ballerina.
The new website isn’t just a fun little tool to help you pass the time. There’s a strong educational component that will surely help teachers explain global phenomena and geography to their students. Many kinds of scientists — especially meteorologists and climatologists — should also be able to use DSCOVR:EPIC as a part of their supporting data during their research projects.
For now, though, just allow the spinning ball of blue onscreen reminds you what a small world we live in.