What our world looks like from 1.6m kays
If cosmologist Carl Sagan was impressed with "a pale blue dot", he would have been equally blown away by this incredible image of Earth taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) craft. While the photograph taken by Voyager in 1990 from 5.9billion kilometres away showed our planet as just one pixel, the new picture reveals Earth in incredible detail from just 1.6million kilometres.It was taken by Nasa's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera and generated by stitching together three separate photographs. Amid swirls of cloud, it shows North America, the Gulf of Mexico and South America. At the top right it is just possible to make out the western coasts of Europe."This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space," said Nasa administrator Charlie Bolden."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 Earth images show the effects of sunlight scattered by air molecules, giving the pictures a characteristic bluish tint.The camera team is now working on a rendering of these images that emphasises land features and removes this atmospheric effect.Last week the first close-up images of Pluto and its moon, Charon, were beamed back from Nasa's spacecraft New Horizons, revealing an icy, red world with 3000m mountains.Nasa has promised that once DSCOVR begins regular data acquisition, new images will be available every day, 12 to 36 hours after they are acquired.