Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Solar Dynamic Observatory

NASA launched its Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) on February 11th as part of their 'Living With a Star' program (the launch was pretty cool, check it out).
The mission of the SDO is to monitor the magnetic field of the Sun and how it affects our planet, by determining
  • how the Sun's magnetic field is generated and structured
  • how this stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and variations in the solar irradiance.
One of the cool things about SDO is its very high bandwidth to Earth (around 130 Mbps) which enables it to upload (download?) a lot of high resolution images and video, that all of us can enjoy.

You can learn a lot about the SDO by watching this slideshow on Discovery News
Universe Today has an article about it as well.

Today (April 21st) the first light images from the SDO were released.
And they are freaking awesome.

Solar Prominence
The first image you'll notice on the site is this:

An image such as this is pretty cool on its own. It shows a solar prominence eruption which occured shortly after the SDO opened its doors to the Sun.
But was is even cooler, is that there is a video available of it (which has obviously been uploaded to Youtube).

Solar Eclipse
Another cool video can be seen on page 3 of the first light site.

It's the Sun being eclipsed by the Earth (as seen from the SDO).
How often do you see that? You don't, that's how often.

The Temperature of the Sun
But there are many more cool images and videos on the site, you really should go have a look.
The image below shows the different temperatures of the Sun (blue is around .7 million degrees and red is around 2 million degrees).

Click the image to see the video

And a lot more images/videos will come as the years go by, the SDO is just getting started and already it's awesome.

You can seem more images and video on the official SDO Flickr page or by visiting the official SDO site where you can also read a lot more about the SDO and the mission.