An artist's conception of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in orbit around Earth.
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Image courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a satellite which carries several telescopes and other instruments for observing the Sun. The instruments on SDO produce much more detailed images than similar instruments on earlier orbiting solar observatories. SDO, which was launched on February 11, 2010, will study the Sun for 5 years as part of NASA's Living With a Star program.
SDO carries three instruments: HMI, EVE, and AIA. The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) studies the interior of the Sun and the Sun's magnetic field. The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) monitors variation in the Sun's overall ultraviolet radiation output. UV rays from the Sun have a strong impact on Earth's upper atmosphere. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures extremely high-resolution images of the Sun at various UV wavelengths.
SDO captures images of the Sun much more frequently than earlier orbiting observatories did. It also takes pictures with much higher resolution. These improvements combine to give scientists a much better picture of the Sun.
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