NASA’s new Deep Space Climate Observatory Satellite (DSCOVR) just captured its first photo (above) of our beautiful planet from one million miles away. One. Million. Miles. Away. Crazy. In comparison, the Blue Marble photo was captured by the crew on Apollo 17 only 28,000 miles away in 1972.

What’s cool about shooting 1 million miles away is that every picture shows what happened on Earth 5 seconds in the past (that’s how long it takes light to travel from Earth to the camera).

The camera is the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) and it packs a 4MP CCD sensor and an 11.8-inch telescope lens with a field of view of 0.61º. The sensor is black-and-white, and there are 10 different filters that can be rotated into position depending on the desired wavelength of light.

“The color images of Earth from NASA’s EPIC are generated by combining three separate images to create a photographic-quality image,” NASA writes. “The camera takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these Earth images.”

epiccamera l1point

DSCOVR is at the special Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point, which ensures that it will always stay between Earth and the Sun. This means the EPIC camera will be pointed at the sunny side of Earth at all times. Pretty cool right?!

Now this may sound crazy and you may be wondering what this crazy camera is for: the purpose of DSCOVR is to monitor solar wind for space weather alerts and forecasts. When everything is in order, DSCOVR snaps photos of Earth every 2 hours. Starting in September, the photos will be posted on an online gallery just for these beautiful photos.

Isn’t this awesome?!

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