Watch Earth Spin Through a Full Year in This Spectacular Time-Lapse Video

One year on earth video still
A new time-lapse videos combines 3,000 images from the DSCOVR satellite's EPIC camera to show a year of Earth's rotation, as seen from a million miles away. (Image credit: NASA Goddard via YouTube)

Talk about "As the World Turns": A sped-up video of Earth spinning through space shows a dizzying array of clouds and continents from a satellite located 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) away.

The time-lapse video of 3,000 images shows pictures taken every 2 hours. The pictures come courtesy of the EPIC camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. The satellite is located at a gravitationally stable spot in space between the Earth and the sun known as a Lagrange point. 

"EPIC takes a new picture every 2 hours ... capturing the ever-changing motion of clouds and weather systems and the fixed features of Earth such as deserts, forests and the distinct blues of different seas," NASA Goddard officials wrote in the video's description. [DSCOVR: The ;Deep Space Climate Observatory Mission in Photos]

"EPIC will allow scientists to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth's atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth," the officials said.

The first picture from this spacecraft was sent on July 26, 2015, EPIC's lead scientist, Jay Herman, said during the video's narration. From EPIC's vantage point hanging in space, the instrument records images in 10 different wavelengths. Those wavelengths of light are then combined to create an image close to what the human eye would see.

The video slows down briefly to show the moon's shadow racing across Earth in March 2016, during a total solar eclipse. The spacecraft also records the sun rising and setting about 13 times each day from itsthe satellite's perspective.

One of EPIC's scientific goals is to track the motion of clouds, which reflect light from the sun and keep the planet cool. They also trap heat from the Earth's surface, Herman said, so changes in cloud cover affect the heat balance of the planet.

But the primary scientific goal of DSCOVR is to monitor the constant stream of charged particles that fly from the sun, known as the solar wind. Providing better forecasts of the solar wind helps the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) create real-time alerts about solar activity, which can affect satellites and power lines.

DSCOVR is a partnership amongst NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the type of eclipse DSCOVR saw in March 2016. It was a total solar eclipse, not lunar eclipse. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: