Although they’re rare, a large enough solar storm could devastate electronic equipment all over the world–and that means the power would go out. A new satellite called the Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, was built to combat this problem, and will be launched later today aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

If you need your memory jogged, this is the Falcon 9:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMAtCQEPLeQ

The rocket is part of Elon Musk’s pet project to drastically reduce the costs of space travel by reusing the parts we normally jettison into space. During the last launch, the Falcon 9 managed to set down on a platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean (albeit sideways and in a blaze of glory).

Elon Musk later explained that the rocket ran out of hydraulic fluid. Needless to say, the explosion landing attempt will be repeated later this evening (6:10 p.m. EST; Feb. 8, 2015) with a much deeper reservoir of hydraulic fluid. Of course, we’ll only mention it again if it doesn’t blow up.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory Could Save the Planet from Another Stone Age

Well, not really. But it could certainly prevent a whole lot of damage. The Deep Space Climate Observatory is the culmination of an idea Al Gore had in 1998. The satellite was actually built shortly thereafter, but George W. Bush’s presidency led to a reshuffling of priorities, i.e. the satellite was never launched.

When launched, the Deep Space Climate Observatory will spend 110 days nudging itself into just the right position to routinely collect the data needed. DSCOVR also has a variety of new sensors–new priorities, actually–which will gather information about ozone movement and numerous other atmosphere conditions here at home. How very exciting! How’s that mission to Europa going, NASA?

What do you think of the Deep Space Climate Observatory? Is it more or less important than SpaceX’s attempt to blow up reuse the Falcon 9 rocket? Is our future in space looking dismal bright, or do we have a long way to go?

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About Author

Jeff is a self-proclaimed pragmatic futurist; that is, he has high hopes for absurd life-altering technologies which sound too good to be true, and probably are. Although he writes on a variety of subjects, his real passion is for technological innovation and the people who make it happen. By day, he enjoys fuzzy bunnies, kittens, puppies, roller coasters and a sardonic written word or two. By night, he's busy running MMR, replaying a random Final Fantasy game, or pretending to be Batman. He currently resides in Upstate NY.