After three false starts DSCOVR finally made its maiden flight with its declared intent of protecting Earth from solar storms. 15 years and innumerable delays DSCOVR or the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft finally took to the skies atop a SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket at 6:03 PM Eastern yesterday.
DSCOVR was a joint effort between NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Air Force, and each was responsible for one third of the cost tag. NOAA served as the mission manager, NASA was entrusted with the job of handling the science instruments and the Air Force was tasked with finding a suitable rocket to carry this entity to space. The Air Force selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as the launch vehicle.
It was a path breaking mission with SpaceX which hopes to get even more Government contracts in future. The satellite which is the size of a refrigerator .will be placed one million miles from earth and would serve as an advanced warning system against solar flares and geo magnetic storms which could cause problems in power grids with additional electric currents, blowing transformers and ensuing complete power grid failure. This is important because solar flares and geo magnetic storms are proven threats which can wreak havoc on major public infrastructures amounting to billions of dollars of damages.
And that’s crucial, since space weather and geomagnetic storms are proven threats to virtually every major public infrastructure we have, and could potentially cause billions of dollars worth of damage.
We can consider DSCOVR as a beacon providing 15–60 minutes of lead time for incoming severe space weather. The advance warning will give a head start-giving time to take protective measures
DSCOVR will be stationed at the Lagrange Point 1 or L1 for short, 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from the Earth. Once there it will orbit the sun four times further out into space than Moon.