NASA lets us watch the Sun spin for 3 years in 4

first_imgBack in February 2010 NASA launched the Solar Dynamics Observatory–a 3-axis stabilized satellite and fully redundant spacecraft that will observe the Sun for five years. It has five years of additional fuel on board if NASA decides to extend the mission, though.The aim of the SDO is to monitor solar activity and see how that impacts space weather. On board it has the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) consisting of four telescopes, the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) that measures the Sun’s ultraviolet output, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) that maps solar magnetic fields and helps map the sun’s magnetic dynamo.As part of its observations, the SDO captures an image of the Sun every 12 seconds using the AIA, but varies those shots across 10 different wavelengths.NASA has now collected 3 year’s worth of image data from the SDO and has put together the video you see below. The images represent the wavelength of 171 Angstroms, which shows solar material at 600,000 Kelvin. To create the four minute video NASA used 2 images per day. You may notice that the Sun seems to get bigger and smaller during playback, but that’s simply due to the distance between the SDO and Sun varying as the satellite orbits the Earth at 6,876mph.The video also includes a number of key events, which are listed below along with their timestamp in the video:30 seconds: partial Sun eclipse by the Moon31 seconds: SDO performs a roll maneuver1m 11s: x6.9 solar flare, the largest of this solar cycle (August 9, 2011)1m 28s: Comet Lovejoy passes by (December 15, 2011)1m 49s: SDO performs a roll maneuver1m 51s: Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun (transit of Venus) (June 5, 2012)2m 28s: partial Sun eclipse by the MoonThe Sun has a regular 11-year cycle for its solar activity, of which SDO has captured the peak period conveyed in this video. It is hoped with continued monitoring we will be able to better predict the weather in space as well as getting some more very cool videos from NASA.last_img