Coronal Mass Ejection as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7, 2011. Image Credit: NASA/SDO
Coronal Mass Ejection as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7, 2011. Image Credit: NASA/SDO

Missions, sun

A Mesmerizing Look at Year 4 of the Solar Dynamics Observatory

11 Feb , 2014 by

Four years ago today, the Solar Dynamics Observatory embarked on a five-year mission to boldly go where no Sun-observing satellite has gone before. SDO uses its three instruments to look constantly at the Sun in ten different wavelengths. Called the “Crown Jewel” of NASA’s fleet of solar observatories, SDO is a technologically advanced spacecraft that takes images of the sun every 0.75 seconds. Each day it sends back about 1.5 terabytes of data to Earth — the equivalent of about 380 full-length movies.

SDO launched on Feb. 11, 2010, and it has since captured the amazing views of the ever-changing face of the Sun — the graceful dance of solar material coursing through the Sun’s the corona, massive solar explosions and giant sunspot shows. Enjoy this latest highlight video from year 4 from SDO!

I was priveldged to be able to attend the launch of SDO, and you can read our article about the launch here.

The launch included a little “special effects” that wowed the crowd. The Atlas rocket soared close to a sundog just as the spacecraft reached Max-Q, and a ripple effect was created around the spacecraft. You can watch the launch below to see what happened:

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Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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February 11, 2014 9:41 PM

Ever thought about creating a list of your ten favorite space missions? How hard could that be? I tried and found it’s really hard unless I made it, manned or robotic and/or currently functioning space exploration missions. Even then it’s hard to choose… Cassini’s still numero uno for me, then Curiosity and Opportunity, MRO, SDO, SOHO, LRO. Mercury messenger, HST, DAWN… So ten is easy. The next hundred or so might be harder to sort?