Al Gore’s Satellite

31 August 2014
Update: DSCOVR launched successfully aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 11.

Make yourself comfortable before asking scientists at NASA about the mission they work on. That is, unless they’re working on the Deep Space Climate Observatory, called DSCOVR, a satellite scheduled for launch early next year. A curious modesty surrounds any discussion about the mission; NASA’s press office dodges inquiries by passing them on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which formally controls DSCOVR, even though the cargo-van-size spacecraft sits inside NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where dozens of NASA engineers are testing and tweaking its instruments in advance of its big day. When NASA finally allowed me to meet with a deputy project manager, he claimed to know nothing about the science those instruments will study. He’s just an operations guy.