How much do we really know about the earth and the changes that it is going through? Those who try to stay abreast of the state of our planet can choose to access NASA satellite images or glean a basic understanding of the latest developments from ongoing news media coverage, but how does that information translate into a real world comprehension that we can actually process and act on?
Back in 1998, then-Senator Al Gore – who by many accounts has long been an eco-visionary well before we ever knew we needed one – proposed the development of a unique satellite that would stream live video feed of our entire planet via the Internet. His idea, dubbed the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), was devised in an effort to help global citizens obtain a greater understanding of the connection between their actions and the physical impact they have on the earth as well as aiding scientists in devising viable solutions to the challenges that we face.
What has ended up being a $65 million satellite – complete with a radiometer able to determine the volume of actual sunlight emitted and reflected from our planet as well as an imaging camera – has been kept in storage despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences deemed it “strong and scientifically vital”. Able to assess cloud patterns, weather developments and the health of ecosystems, new life was recently injected into Gore’s seemingly practical global warming assessment system with the announcement that President Barack Obama has given the thumbs-up to finally launch it.
While the details are still being ironed out, the only ‘tweak’ that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wants to make is via the installation of radiation sensors. The twice-refurbished craft – destined to hover between our planet and the sun an estimated million miles away — could be sent into space in as soon as 3 years time.
Via Science Mag