GREENBELT, Md., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, satellite orbits Earth at a distance of one million miles, well beyond the moon's position 250,000 miles from Earth.
Recently, the DSCOVR satellite and its Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) showed off its unique vantage by capturing the path of the moon as it moved across the face of the Earth.
As the newly released animation shows, DSCOVR has the sun at its back. The sunlit Earth outshines the partially lit backside of the moon, which appears unusually dark in contrast to our bright blue home planet.
"It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon," Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release. "Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface."
Because of how the succession of images are processed -- snapped 30 seconds apart and each combining a number of different wavelength images to form a single photo -- the movement of the moon caused a green exposure on its leading edge.
The primary purpose of DSCOVR -- outfitted with a four-megapixel CCD camera, telescope and a number of other instruments -- is not to watch Earth but to study the sun, particularly solar winds. Scientists hope the real-time solar wind data delivered by the satellite, which isn't yet in full operation, will help NASA and NOAA better forecast space weather.
Though most of DSCOVR's instruments will work toward monitoring the electromagnetic activity on the sun's surface, its camera will constantly pointed at Earth's sunlit surface. Soon, NASA will offer daily image updates to a DSCOVR-specific website.