Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This is incredible

I don't know if anyone remembers Fat Al Gore, but back in 1998 he proposed stationing a satellite at the Earth-Sun L1 point to continuously photograph the earth from deep space. Flaky, no?

The L1 point is one of five locations called Lagrange points, which exist in any system of two orbiting bodies, where a smaller body can remain stably. L1 is nearly 1 million miles from the earth, well outside the orbit of the moon. Somehow I missed it, but NASA actually did it! The satellite is now called the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR (get it?) and it was launched by SpaceX in 2015. Now it gives us this amazing image:

That is the moon transiting the earth. We're seeing the side of the moon which can never be seen from earth. Although it's called the "dark" side of the moon it isn't really dark - it is illuminated just as often as the near side. Since we're seeing the lighted side of the earth (L1 is in a direct line between earth and sun, so you always see the day side), we're also seeing the far side illuminated. You can see the transit in motion here, courtesy of your tax dollars at work.

That's everything we have, folks. There's no place else to go, and nothing else to live on.

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