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  SDO | Solar Dynamics Observatory

SDO | Solar Dynamics Observatory

Lika Guhathakurta

The amazing images and movies below were captured by NASA’s latest and most advanced solar telescope, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO is part of the Living with a Star (LWS) programme. Professor Lika Guhathakutta, NASA’s lead Programme Scientist for LWS says, “The SDO mission evokes a sense of wonder when we see the fantastic solar images and movies. We can see new science unfolding in front of our eyes.”.




SDO - Solar Dynamic Observatory is a NASA project



For the latest news on SDO visit our iSun|trek website.




The Extreme UltraViolet (EUV) image of the Sun shown below was taken by SDO on 30th March 2010 and shows gas at different temperatures (red is 60,000 °C; blues and greens are about 1,000,000 °C).


SDO - Solar Dynamics Observatory


Several active regions can be seen in the image above, with large loops of hot gas tracing out the Sun’s magnetic field. On the solar limb (at the 10 o’clock position) is a huge explosion with gas and twisted magnetic fields reaching high above the solar surface.

The instruments aboard the Solar Dynamic Observatory

Three instruments are carried by SDO.

The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) takes high resolution (very detailed) images of the solar atmosphere in different wavebands, characteristic of different temperatures.


The Heliospheric and Magnetic Imager (HMI) maps the Sun’s magnetic field in detail, and also probes beneath the surface using sophisticated techniques of Helioseismology.


The Extreme UV Experiment (EVE) measures fluctuations in the Sun’s radiation. These data will lead to a better understanding of how the Sun’s UV radiation interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere, affecting its chemistry and the Earth’s climate.

SDO was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 11th February 2010 aboard an Atlas V rocket.


SDO will produce absolutely huge amounts of data. Over 1.5 terabytes of data will be sent back to Earth each day, which is equivalent to downloading half a million songs onto an MP3 player each day. It is a challenge for scientists to deal with so much data.



A huge eruption seen by SDO AIA reaches out high above the solar surface, 30 times the Earth's diameter.


The NASA teams are working closely with UK scientists to understand the Sun’s dynamic nature.


SDO observations will be combined with those from other solar spacecraft, Hinode, STEREO, RHESSI, TRACE and SoHO to study the Sun, sunspots, solar flares, Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s) and how the Sun affects the Earth, for example by disrupting communication and navigation (GPS).


Hinode         STEREO      TRACE       SoHo



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