The Deep Space Climate Observatory (Dscovr) satellite is due for launch on February 8. The observatory will monitor space weather around our home planet, including monitoring solar wind.

The Dscovr satellite, formerly known as Triana, is designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The vehicle will be placed into the L1 orbit, a point between Earth and the Sun where gravitational forces from the bodies balance. This provides a location, around one million miles away from our home planet, where Dscovr can measure the solar wind about one hour before it strikes the Earth. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) is currently in that location. The new observatory will replace that vehicle, which was launched in 1997. This will allow the new vehicle to detect charged particles coming from a coronal mass ejection (CME), and alert operators on the ground before the space storm strikes our planet.

"Without timely and accurate warnings, space weather events like the geomagnetic storms caused by changes in solar wind have the potential to disrupt nearly every major public infrastructure system, including power grids, telecommunications, aviation and GPS," NOAA official wrote on a Web page for the spacecraft.

Following launch of Dscovr into orbit, SpaceX engineers intend to land the first stage booster safely back on Earth for re-use. A recent attempt to do this failed, as the rocket crashed into its landing pad, exploding in a brilliant fireball.

Former Vice-President Al Gore originally suggested the mission, back in 1998, as a means of creating constant pictures of Earth. His frequent mentions of the observatory led some people to start referring to the spacecraft as GoreSat. The original formal name, Triana, was in tribute to Ridrigo de Triana, the 15th Century sailor who first spotted the New World while under command of Christopher Columbus. The Triana mission was cancelled by the Bush Administration in 2001, but was revived in 2009, as a means of keeping watch on space weather near our planet.

The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (Epic) will constantly watch the planet, allowing researchers to measure levels of radiation striking Earth. The National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) will record energy radiating from the planet. Comparing data from both instruments will allow investigators to carefully record energy exchanges between our planet and outer space.

The magnetic field around the Sun will be monitored by the observatory, as well as solar flares rising from our local star.

Liftoff of Dscovr is currently scheduled for 6:10 p.m., from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

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