Mind-Boggling New Images of the Sun

Tagged: Nasa, Sun, Technology
Source: governmentvideo.com - Read the full article
Posted: 4 years 35 weeks ago

NASA's recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory is returning early images that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand our sun's dynamic 
processes.

A full-disk multi-wavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by SDO on March 30, 2010. False colors trace different gas temperatures. Reds are relatively cool; blues and greens are hotter. (NASA image)
Some of the images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail 
of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show
 extreme close-ups of activity on the sun's surface. The spacecraft 
also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares 
in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.



"These initial images show a dynamic sun that I had never seen in more 
than 40 years of solar research," said Richard Fisher, director of
the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "SDO
 will change our understanding of the sun and its processes, which
 affect our lives and society. This mission will have a huge impact on
 science, similar to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on modern astrophysics."


The NASA Website also has video clips of solar activity here.


Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever 
designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will
 examine the sun's magnetic field and also provide a better
 understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric 
chemistry and climate. Since launch, engineers have been conducting 
testing and verification of the spacecraft's components. Now fully
 operational, SDO will provide images with clarity 10 times better 
than high-definition television and will return more comprehensive
 science data faster than any other solar observing spacecraft.



SDO will determine how the sun's magnetic field is generated structured and converted into violent solar events such as turbulent
 solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These immense clouds of material, when directed toward Earth, can cause large
 magnetic storms in our planet's magnetosphere and upper atmosphere.



SDO will provide critical data that will improve the ability to 
predict these space weather events. NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center in Greenbelt, Md., built, operates and manages the SDO 
spacecraft for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in
 Washington.




Space weather has been recognized as a cause of technological problems
 since the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century. These 
events produce disturbances in electromagnetic fields on Earth that
 can induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines and
causing widespread blackouts. These solar storms can interfere with
 communications between ground controllers, satellites and airplane
 pilots flying near Earth's poles. Radio noise from the storm also can
 disrupt cell phone service.



SDO will send 1.5 terabytes of data back to Earth each day, which is
 equivalent to a daily download of half a million songs onto an MP3 
player. The observatory carries three state-of the-art instruments 
for conducting solar research.



The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager maps solar magnetic fields and 
looks beneath the sun's opaque surface. The experiment will decipher 
the physics of the sun's activity, taking pictures in several very
 narrow bands of visible light. Scientists will be able to make
 ultrasound images of the sun and study active regions in a way 
similar to watching sand shift in a desert dune. The instrument's principal investigator is Phil Scherrer of Stanford University. HMI 
was built by a collaboration of Stanford University and the Lockheed 
Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif.



The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly is a group of four telescopes 
designed to photograph the sun's surface and atmosphere. The 
instrument covers 10 different wavelength bands, or colors, selected
to reveal key aspects of solar activity. These types of images will 
show details never seen before by scientists. The principal 
investigator is Alan Title of the Lockheed Martin Solar and 
Astrophysics Laboratory, which built the instrument.



The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment measures fluctuations
 in the sun's radiant emissions. These emissions have a direct and 
powerful effect on Earth's upper atmosphere -- heating it, puffing it
 up, and breaking apart atoms and molecules. Researchers don't know
 how fast the sun can vary at many of these wavelengths, so they
 expect to make discoveries about flare events. The principal
 investigator is Tom Woods of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space
 Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. LASP built the 
instrument.



"These amazing images, which show our dynamic sun in a new level of
detail, are only the beginning of SDO's contribution to our
understanding of the sun," said SDO Project Scientist Dean Pesnell of
Goddard.



SDO is the first mission of NASA's Living with a Star Program, or LWS,
 and the crown jewel in a fleet of NASA missions that study our sun 
and space environment. The goal of LWS is to develop the scientific 
understanding necessary to address those aspects of the connected
 sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.