Topic: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory
Greenbelt, MD – In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — is celebrating its 10th year in space. Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the Sun, studying how the Sun creates solar activity and drives space weather — the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.
Since its launch on February 11th, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.
Greenbelt, MD – Could the same computer algorithms that teach autonomous cars to drive safely help identify nearby asteroids or discover life in the universe? NASA scientists are trying to figure that out by partnering with pioneers in artificial intelligence (AI) — companies such as Intel, IBM and Google — to apply advanced computer algorithms to problems in space science.
Machine learning is a type of AI. It describes the most widely used algorithms and other tools that allow computers to learn from data in order to make predictions and categorize objects much faster and more accurately than a human being can.
Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
Greenbelt, MD – For most viewers, the Monday, August 21st, 2017, total solar eclipse will last less than two and half minutes. But for one team of NASA-funded scientists, the eclipse will last over seven minutes. Their secret? Following the shadow of the Moon in two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes.
Amir Caspi of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and his team will use two of NASA’s WB-57F research jets to chase the darkness across America on August 21st. Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes, Caspi will capture the clearest images of the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona — to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – On December 31st, 2016, official clocks around the world will add a leap second just before midnight Coordinated Universal Time — which corresponds to 6:59:59pm EST. NASA missions will also have to make the switch, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the sun 24/7.
Clocks do this to keep in sync with Earth’s rotation, which gradually slows down over time. When the dinosaurs roamed Earth, for example, our globe took only 23 hours to make a complete rotation. In space, millisecond accuracy is crucial to understanding how satellites orbit.
Written by Lina Tran
Greenbelt, MD – Early in the morning of September 1st, 2016, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, caught both Earth and the moon crossing in front of the sun. SDO keeps a constant eye on the sun, but during SDO’s semiannual eclipse seasons, Earth briefly blocks SDO’s line of sight each day – a consequence of SDO’s geosynchronous orbit.
On September 1st, Earth completely eclipsed the sun from SDO’s perspective just as the moon began its journey across the face of the sun. The end of the Earth eclipse happened just in time for SDO to catch the final stages of the lunar transit.
Written by Lina Tran
Greenbelt, MD – On July 6th, 2016, engineers instructed NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, to roll 360 degrees on one axis. SDO dutifully performed the seven-hour maneuver, while producing some dizzying data:
For this period of time, SDO images – taken every 12 seconds – appeared to show the sun spinning, as if stuck on a pinwheel. The images below were taken by SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths that are typically invisible to our eyes, but was colorized here in gold for easy viewing.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – While busily investigating bedrock types on Mars’ Mount Sharp and preparing for a drill test, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has also been looking up frequently to monitor sunspots on the face of the sun that is turned away from Earth.
Large sunspots are evident in views from Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). Scientists temporarily have no other resource providing views of the sun from the opposite side of the solar system from Earth. The sun completes a rotation about once a month — faster near its equator than near its poles.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – As NASA missions explore our solar system and search for new worlds, they are finding water in surprising places. Water is but one piece of our search for habitable planets and life beyond Earth, yet it links many seemingly unrelated worlds in surprising ways.
“NASA science activities have provided a wave of amazing findings related to water in recent years that inspire us to continue investigating our origins and the fascinating possibilities for other worlds, and life, in the universe,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for the agency. “In our lifetime, we may very well finally answer whether we are alone in the solar system and beyond.”
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – When you attach the prefix “nano” to something, it usually means “very small.” Solar flares appear to be the exception.
Researchers are studying a type of explosion on the sun called a ‘nanoflare.’ A billion times less energetic than ordinary flares, nanoflares have a power that belies their name.
“A typical ‘nanoflare’ has the same energy as 240 megatons of TNT,” says physicist David Smith of UC Santa Cruz. “That would be something like 10,000 atomic fission bombs.”
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, an M6.6-class, peaking at 11:32pm EDT on October 28th, 2014 – the latest in a series of substantial flares from a giant active region on the sun that first erupted with a significant solar flare on October 19th.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which constantly observes the sun, captured images of the event.
To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov , the U.S. government’s official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
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