The Solar Dynamics Observatory has been in the sky for three years – here’s everything it has ever given us.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) went up in early 2010, with a mission of furthering our ability to monitor and understand the sun. Ever since, it has been streaming back important science – and notifying us of solar weather events, like plasma rain on the surface of the sun, for example. To celebrate three years of the SDO’s flight, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released a fantastic video that compiles three years of solar activity into three minutes. What’s most interesting is that the sun is nearing the peak of its 11 year cycle – the solar maximum – so these three minutes are three minutes of the sun becoming more and more active. The video has two images a day for all three years.
The SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly takes a picture of the sun every 12 seconds. The images in the video are at a wavelength of 171 Angstroms – that shows us solar material at about 600,000 Kelvin. There are some brief moments of interruption in the images, which are a couple partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, two times the spacecraft rolled, a massive solar flare, the comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus. By the way, NASA wants you to know how stable that image is for a spacecraft orbiting the earth at 6,786 miles per hour while the earth is orbiting the sun at 67,062 miles per hour. Just saying.
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