MIAMI: A $340 million deep space observatory that aims to alert people on Earth of potentially dangerous solar activity and geomagnetic storms blasted off Wednesday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
“The Falcon takes flight, propelling the Deep Space Climate Observatory on a million mile journey to protect our planet Earth,” said NASA commentator George Diller, of the launch at 6:03 pm (2303 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The DSCOVR a joint collaboration of the US Air Force, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is headed to a deep space destination between the Earth and Sun known as Lagrangian point, or L1.
The journey will take 110 days, followed by 40 days of instrument tests.
DSCOVR will replace an aging satellite, known as ACE, that is many years past its expiration date.
It should provide the same accuracy as its predecessor, officials said.
Initially known as Triana, it was built in the late 1990s dreamed up by former US vice president Al Gore but the mission was canceled in 2001 by the George W.
NASA stored the observatory in a clean room, and about seven years ago determined it was still viable, said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator of the NOAA Satellite and Information Service.
The name was changed to DSCOVR and the instruments were refurbished so that it could take real time measurements of solar wind and send data swiftly to Earth.
Its secondary mission is to collect scientific data about aerosol levels, ozone and radiation balance on Earth.