NASA Successfully Launches a New Eye on the Sun

Feb 11, 2010
This NASA TV video grab shows the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and its Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida. An Atlas V rocket carrying a US solar observatory into space blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, lifted off Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 on a first-of-a-kind mission to reveal the sun's inner workings in unprecedented detail. The launch aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:23 a.m. EST.

The most technologically advanced of NASA's heliophysics spacecraft, SDO will take images of the sun every 0.75 seconds and daily send back about 1.5 terabytes of data to Earth -- the equivalent of streaming 380 full-length movies.

"This is going to be sensational," said Richard R. Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "SDO is going to make a huge step forward in our understanding of the sun and its effects on life and society."

The sun's dynamic processes affect everyone and everything on Earth. SDO will explore activity on the sun that can disable satellites, cause power grid failures, and disrupt GPS communications. SDO also will provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate.

SDO is the crown jewel in a fleet of NASA missions to study our sun. The mission is the cornerstone of a NASA science program called Living With A Star. This program will provide new understanding and information concerning the sun and solar system that directly affect Earth, its inhabitants and technology.

The SDO project is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center managed the payload integration and launch.

Explore further: How bad can solar storms get?

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User comments : 2

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cybrbeast
2 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2010
Too bad it's not going to orbit the Sun. From the location of Earth it can't really help in determining the magnitude of solar flares and CME's before they hit. A very large CME could seriously destroy/overload many satellites and power grids.
El_Nose
not rated yet Feb 12, 2010
nothing can warn us of a large emmission before they hit -- no matter where they are placed...

if the satellite was near the sun it would see the event -- process it /takes time / and send off the information -- in the mean time the wave of energy kept moving at the speed of light at earth.. the warning comes a split second later.

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