What looks like an unsightly bruise in an otherwise serene view of our blue Earth is actually the effect of a rather special astronomical event that occurred on March 9 (Wednesday).
ANALYSIS: SpaceX Launches Space Weather Satellite DSCOVR
Imaged by NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on board the NOAA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft, a series of photos captured the total solar eclipse as it blocked the sun's light. This event was the only total solar eclipse of 2016 and only observers in the South Pacific had the opportunity to see it. But fortunately for DSCOVR, the satellite will always have a near-perfect view of all solar eclipses on our planet, regardless of where they occur.
DSCOVR was launched in 2015 and sent to orbit the sun-Earth Lagrangian Point L1 - an island of gravitational stability where the gravity of the sun and Earth balance out. This particular location is approximately 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) from Earth in the direction of the sun, a perfect location for studying space weather phenomena (such as the solar wind) to understand how the sun's radiation impacts our planet.
ANALYSIS: An EPIC View of the Moon in Earth's Orbital Embrace
The spacecraft is constantly looking at the Earth's sun-lit hemisphere and the EPIC instrument's sole purpose is to constantly stare at the Earth, loading images to the internet in near-realtime.
Previously, the mission has also spotted the moon transit across the Earth's disk, revealing its sun-lit far side.
Watch the eclipse from the ground as the moon blocks the sun, revealing our nearest star's corona and occasional prominence: