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The DECK: Earth Live from Space

EMBARGO: This project is under development and it does not have yet a release day. The information shown here is only for collaborators. Please do not share the link to this page.


The DISH Earth Camera Knowledge (The DECK) page is an educational project of the PHL to analyze real-time true-color images of Earth from the EchoStar 11 geostationary satellite (image above). From this vantage point the habitability of our planet is self evident from the global presence of liquid water, the oceans. Rarely visible shades of green in the land areas also reveal that it is covered by vegetation; however, the presence of animal life and humans is not obvious, not even the city night lights.

This is the particular challenge that scientists will need to solve to study potential habitable exoplanets and determine if they are inhabited, even by just some forms of vegetation. Extrasolar planets are so far away that we barely have the technology to see them as dots of light. We do not even have a clear image of Pluto despite it being so close in comparison to extrasolar planets. The closest star to Earth is over eight thousands times farther than Pluto. Continuous views of Earth, as the image above, are used by scientists to learn how to interpret similar future observations of Earth-like planets.

In this page we will provide more information, educational resources, and analyses based on these images including some measures, as the percent of cloud cover, geometric albedo, light curves, and orbital parameters. The images are slightly color enhanced from the original satellite data to more closely match the view of Earth as seen by the naked-eye.

About EchoStar 11 and its DISH Earth Camera

EchoStar 11 is a US communications satellite of EchoStar Technologies L.L.C. that was launched by the Sea Launch Company on July 16, 2008. The satellite is designed for a 15-year orbital service operation and provides direct-to-home television service to Dish Network subscribers in the US. The satellite orbits Earth in a 110°W geostationary orbit, which keeps the satellite in the same position above the western hemisphere.

The DISH Earth Camera installed on EchoStar 11 delivers full-disk views of our planet from a distance of 5.6 Earth radii (35,786 km) above the Earth's surface. It is the world’s first satellite in a geostationary orbit with a true-color camera, offering live video of Earth to Dish Network customers since 2009. Other satellites take images outside the visible spectrum (i.e. GEOS) and those with true-color cameras are in low orbits that need to combine images to produce full-disk views (i.e. Terra and Aqua).

The DISH Earth Camera offers a 30 degree x 22.4 degree field-of-view at a spatial resolution of about 25 km/pixel (720x486 pixels NTSC) and a frame rate of one image every 15 seconds. The Sun, Moon, Venus, and other natural and artificial objects also appear occasionally in the images. The imagery is continuously archived at EchoStar’s uplink facilities and some videos are available in the EchoStar STUDIO's YouTube Channel.  The camera was developed in conjunction with EchoStar satellite engineers and teams from Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation and Space Systems/Loral.

Acknowledgments and Credits

This page is provided thanks to the cooperation of EchoStar Technologies L.L.C. Some of the images and videos here are copyright by EchoStar Technologies L.L.C. and cannot be used in any electronic or print form without previous permission. Please credit any fair-use usage to EchoStar and PHL @ UPR Arecibo.