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Picture from space observatory shows Earth basking in sunlight

A picture of home from a million miles away shows the complete sunlit globe of the Earth in all its glory.

Like the "Earthrise" images taken from the Moon's surface by the Apollo astronauts, this new photo from an orbiting Nasa satellite serves as a timely reminder of how beautiful and precious our world is.

The high-quality picture, taken by a camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), was produced by combining three separate images.

Charlie Bolden, the American space agency's chief administrator, said: "This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space.

"As a former astronaut who's been privileged to view the Earth from orbit, I want everyone to be able to see and appreciate our planet as an integrated, interacting system. DSCOVR's observations of Earth, as well as its measurements and early warnings of space weather events caused by the sun, will help every person to monitor the ever-changing Earth, and to understand how our planet fits into its neighbourhood in the solar system."

The image clearly shows the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the land mass of North America and Mexico, with the narrow peninsular of Baja California especially visible.

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at Nasa headquarters in Washington DC, said: "These new views ... give us an important perspective of the true global nature of our spaceship Earth."

DSCOVR was launched in February and recently reached its orbital station about a million miles away between the Earth and the sun.

The satellite lies at the first Lagrange point (L1), a unique vantage point where the gravitational fields of the Earth and sun cancel each other out.

Data from the satellite will be used to measure levels of ozone and chemical droplets in the Earth's atmosphere as well as cloud height, vegetation properties and ultraviolet reflectivity.


From Belfast Telegraph