Categories: Missionssun

The Sun Does a Barrel Roll

Well, not really…… The Sun didn’t do a barrel roll; it was actually the Solar Dynamics Observatory that performed a 360-degree roll about the spacecraft-Sun line. But this video showing the change in perspective of SDO makes it appear as though the Sun suddenly shifted (that’s a new one for 2012 doomsdayers to go crazy over!) This roll maneuver wasn’t just so SDO could have a bit of fun, joyriding out there in its inclined geosynchronous orbit. The roll allows the scientists to remove the instrument optical distortions from the solar images taken by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) to precisely determine the solar limb.

“Our Sun is the most perfect sphere in the solar system and thanks to the high resolution observations of the HMI instrument, solar scientist can measure if the Sun’s sphere is changing over time as a result of the solar cycle,” the SDO team wrote. “On April 4, 2012 SDO performed its 6th roll and the accumulated data is being studied and reviewed and will later be published in a paper.”

We’ll look forward to reading it after we get our equilibrium back!

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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