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You're late, Falcon 9: Look what you've done to NASA’s DSCOVR launch!
Windy instrument's lift-off held up until after 29 Jan
The delay of the SpaceX Falcon launch - slated for December 2014 - has had a knock-on impact on another NASA mission, with the agency announcing that its DSCOVR blast-off will have to wait until after 29 January.
A joint NASA/NOAA project, DSCOVR (the Deep Space Climate Observatory) will provide real-time solar wind monitoring, a key input into weather forecasting and to forecasts of likely disruption to earth-based electronics and electricity grids by solar events.
When launched, the DSCOVR will head for the L1 Lagrange point, collecting particles headed our way due to coronal mass ejections. The NOAA says this will provide between 15 and 60 minutes warning before the particles reach us.
NASA also announced in December that an anomaly during a test firing of the Falcon 9 also delayed that launch.
Launch has been a long time coming for the DSCOVR spacecraft. It was built in the 1990s for a mission (called Triana) that was cancelled. After spending seven years in “stable suspension”, it was unboxed again in 2008.
The 570kg satellite's instruments include a Plasma-Magnetometer to measure solar wind activity; the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR), which will measure spectral irradiance of the sunlit face of the Earth; and the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) imager, which will provide global spectral images of the sunlit face of the Earth.
The latter two instruments will provide inputs into climate science and measurements of Earth's energy budget.
The DSCOVR mission will also be hoisted by a Falcon 9. ®