DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory
About the Mission
The Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, was launched in February of 2015, and maintains the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA’s space weather alerts and forecasts. Without timely and accurate warnings, space weather events—like geomagnetic storms—have the potential to disrupt nearly every major public infrastructure system on Earth, including power grids, telecommunications, aviation and GPS.
The DSCOVR mission succeeded NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer’s (ACE) role in supporting solar wind alerts and warnings from the L1 orbit, which is the neutral gravity point between the Earth and Sun, approximately one million miles from Earth. L1 is a good position from which to monitor the Sun, because the constant stream of particles from the Sun (the solar wind) reaches L1 up to an hour before reaching Earth.
From this position, DSCOVR can typically provide 15- to 60-minute advanced warning before a storm of particles and magnetic field, known as a coronal mass ejection (or CME), reaches Earth. DSCOVR data also helps improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations. Our national security and economic well-being, which depend on advanced technologies, are at risk without these advanced warnings.