Deep Space Climate Observatory

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Deep Space Climate Observatory
Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).jpg
Artist's rendering of DSCOVR
Mission type Solar research
Operator NASA/NOAA
Start of mission
Launch date January 23, 2015, 23:49
Rocket Falcon 9 v1.1
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-40
Contractor SpaceX
Deep Space Climate Observatory

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) (formerly known as Triana, unofficially known as GoreSat[1]) is a NOAA Earth observation and space weather satellite scheduled to be launched by SpaceX in early 2015 on a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket. As of June 2014, the launch was scheduled for January 2015.[2]

It was originally developed as a NASA satellite proposed in 1998 by then-Vice President Al Gore for the purpose of Earth observation. It is intended to be positioned at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point (1,500,000 kilometres (930,000 mi) from Earth) to provide early warning of approaching solar storms, at this location it will have a continuous view of the Sun and the sunlit side of the Earth.


The satellite's original purpose was to provide a near-continuous view of the entire Earth and make that live image available via the Internet. Gore hoped not only to advance science with these images, but also to raise awareness of the Earth itself, updating the influential The Blue Marble photograph taken by Apollo 17.[3]

Diagram of the DSCOVR spacecraft

In addition to an imaging camera, a radiometer would take the first direct measurements of how much sunlight is reflected and emitted from the whole Earth (albedo). This data could constitute a barometer for the process of global warming. The scientific goals expanded to measure the amount of solar energy reaching Earth, cloud patterns, weather systems, monitor the health of Earth's vegetation, and track the amount of UV light reaching the surface through the ozone layer.

In 1999, NASA's Inspector General reported that "the basic concept of the Triana mission was not peer reviewed", and "Triana's added science may not represent the best expenditure of NASA's limited science funding."[4] The Bush Administration put the project on hold shortly after George W. Bush's inauguration.[5]

Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences whether the project was worthwhile.[when?] The resulting report stated that the mission was "strong and scientifically vital."[6]

Triana was named after Rodrigo de Triana, the first of Columbus's crew to sight land in the Americas. NASA renamed the satellite Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), in an attempt to regain support for the project.

Triana was removed from its original launch opportunity on STS-107 (the ill-fated Columbia mission in 2003). The $100 million satellite remained in storage for the duration of the Bush administration. In November 2008 the satellite was removed from storage and began recertification for a possible launch on board a Delta II or a Falcon 9.[7][8] As of February 2011, the Obama administration is attempting to secure funding to re-purpose the DSCOVR spacecraft as a solar observatory to replace the aging Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft.[9]

In Al Gore's 2009 book Our Choice, he uses part of the book as an attempt to revive debate on the DSCOVR payload. The book mentions legislative efforts by Senators Barbara Mikulski and Bill Nelson to try to get the satellite launched.[10]

In September 2013 NASA cleared DSCOVR to proceed to the implementation phase targeting an early 2015 launch[11] which had been announced in December 2012 would be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.[12] NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is providing management and systems engineering to the mission.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mellow, Craig (August 2014). "Al Gore’s Satellite". Air & Space/Smithsonian. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "NASA Space Calendar". NASA JPL. June 4, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ Leary, Warren (June 1, 1999). "Politics Keeps a Satellite Earthbound". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  4. ^ "Assessment of the Triana Mission, G-99-013, Final Report". Office of Inspector General. NASA. September 10, 1999. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  5. ^ Donahue, Bill (April 7, 2011). "Who killed the Deep Space Climate Observatory?". Popular Science. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "NASA's Triana Mission Scientific Evaluation Completed". Earth Observatory: Media Alerts Archive. NASA. March 8, 2000. Retrieved 2008-02-03. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Mothballed satellite sits in warehouse, waits for new life". March 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  8. ^ "NEWS: Triana/DSCOVR Spacecraft Successfully Revived from Mothballs". February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  9. ^ "NOAA taps DSCOVR satellite for space weather mission". February 21, 2011. 
  10. ^ Our Choice, 2009, Al Gore, ch. 17.
  11. ^ "DSCOVR Mission Moves Forward to 2015 Launch". 10 September 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Spacex awarded two EELV-class missions from the United States Air Force". SpaceX. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 

External links[edit]