Launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, DSCOVR will provide space weather forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) more reliable measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor potentially harmful solar activity.
"DSCOVR is the latest example of how NASA and NOAA work together to leverage the vantage point of space to both understand the science of space weather and provide direct practical benefits to us here on Earth," explained John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC.
With DSCOVR in its distant orbit, it will become the US's first operational satellite in deep space, orbiting between the Earth and the sun at a location called the first Lagrange point, or L1.
DSCOVR will join at this orbit NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) research satellite, and replace the 17-year-old satellite as America's primary warning system for solar magnetic storms.
ACE will continue its important role in space weather research. In addition to the mission's primary space weather-monitoring instruments, DSCOVR carries two NASA Earth-observing instruments that will gather a range of measurements from the ozone and aerosols in the atmosphere, to changes in Earth's radiation budget.
A NASA solar-science instrument, the Electron Spectrometer, will measure electrons in the solar wind.