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After a few delays, SpaceX is scheduled to launch its pioneering Falcon 9 rocket today at 6:05 pm ET. Falcon 9 is a huge deal and, if successful, could revolutionize space missions altogether. SpaceX will attempt to launch the rocket in Florida and have it safely land on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean. The whole idea is to construct a rocket that can launch into space and touch back down on Earth to be used for subsequent missions. This launch attempt could be delayed (yet again), but you can watch the whole thing on NASA's Ustream channel.
The Falcon 9 will also deploy a special new satellite device into orbit called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). The Earth-monitoring spacecraft has been nearly 14 years in the making. Originally the brainchild of Al Gore, DSCOVR will observe, measure, and report on weather patterns, atmospheric pollution, Earth-emitted energy levels, and space weather. That last one was originally a secondary objective, but it became a priority for the U.S. Air Force (the funder of the launch). DSCOVR will sit at a precise location between the Sun and Earth where the gravitational pulls of both cancel out. These specific coordinates allow the probe to detect approaching solar storms-intensely charged particles and radiation levels that can be dangerous to astronauts, satellites, and electrical grids here on the ground.
Al Gore's dream spacecraft gears up for launch (via Nature)
"Delayed DSCOVR probe will monitor conditions on Earth and solar storms in space."
Triana - a Deep Space Earth and Solar Observatory (via NASA)
Space Weather Prediction Center (via NOAA)