DSCOVR heads to L1 orbit

Feb. 12, 2015

NOAA’s Deep Space Observatory (DSCOVR) lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 6:03 p.m. EST Wednesday Monday on its way to an L1 orbit around the Sun 1 million miles from Earth. (See “NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite to warn of trillion-dollar solar storms.”) NOAA reports it should reach its final destination in about 110 days and complete an initialization check, after which it will provide early warnings of solar magnetic storms.

DSCOVR take on the duties of NASA’s 17-year-old Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), which will continue to operate.

Data from DSCOVR will be processed in conjunction with a new forecast model that is set to come online later this year that will enable NOAA forecasters to predict geomagnetic storms on a regional basis.

“Located in line between the sun and the Earth, DSCOVR will be a point of early warning whenever it detects a surge of energy that could trigger a geomagnetic storm destined for Earth,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “According to the National Academies of Sciences, a major solar storm has the potential to cost upwards of $2 trillion, disrupting telecommunications, GPS systems, and the energy grid. As the nation’s space weather prediction agency, when DSCOVR is fully operational and our new space weather forecast models are in place, we will be able to provide vital information to industries and communities to help them prepare for these storms.”

DSCOVR is also carrying two NASA Earth-observing instruments that will gather a range of measurements from ozone and aerosol amounts, to changes in Earth’s radiation.

DSCOVR launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX had hoped to recover the first stage by landing it on a barge in the Atlantic, but unfortunately, the effort had to be scratched before liftoff because of extreme weather with three-story-high waves.—Rick Nelson

About the Author

Rick Nelson | Contributing Editor

Rick is currently Contributing Technical Editor. He was Executive Editor for EE in 2011-2018. Previously he served on several publications, including EDN and Vision Systems Design, and has received awards for signed editorials from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He began as a design engineer at General Electric and Litton Industries and earned a BSEE degree from Penn State.

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