First launched on February 11, 2010, the SDO spacecraft recently celebrated its fifth year in space, and to mark the occasion, NASA scientists released two videos with images from the spacecraft highlighting the Observatory’s scientific accomplishments.
The data collected by the SDO spacecraft is made possible by three instruments: the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE), which measures the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet rays, the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which studies various components of the Sun’s magnetic activity, and finally, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), which provides images of solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet channels. Together, these instruments are able to capture wondrous views of the Sun.
But the SDO spacecraft does more than produce beautiful images. According to SDO project scientist Dean Pesnell, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, “There have now been more than 2,000 scientific papers published based on SNO data…SDO has also led to wonderful international collaborations, with the data being shared and used all over the world.”
Of the two videos, the first condenses five years of SDO observations into a three-minute, time-lapse video. With engaging music accompanying the video, viewers can see the spinning Sun and its sunspots, first as a golden orb, then as a red ball of fire, later as a cool blue, solid grays and other colors and luminosities. Altogether, the SDO has captured over 2,600 terabytes of data or approximately 1.5 terabytes of each day since its launch five years ago.