Thermonuclear Art: 30 Minutes Of Solar Flares At 4K Resolution

by TeachThought Staff

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is one of the less well-known NASA resources.

SDO is “the first mission to be launched for NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) Program, a program designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth.”

The big idea of the program is to better understand the Sun and how it works, and ultimately affects the earth. Unlike other projects that fling spacecraft into the ether or use earth-bound telescopes, SDO is a little bit of both–a semi-autonomous spacecraft always point at the Sun transferring data at 130 Megabits per second (Mbps).

The craft is a bit bigger than a pickup truck standing on its bumper–13 feet high, and over 6 feet across, weighing a total of 3100 kg. And one of the best parts? It records in ultra-HD 4K, making for absolutely stunning video (that’s likely wasted however you choose to watch it, but still).

You can find exactly what the Sun is up to here--same-day, hours-and-minutes old images of the incredible hydrogen furnace in Earth’s sky that keeps us alive. You can read 16 pages of info on the project if you’re so inclined. It’s a quick read, but if you’re not into it, we’ve included some of the ‘quick facts’ below.

Thermonuclear art, indeed.

SDO Mission Quick Facts

Launch Period: February 9, 2010 (10:30 – 11:30 a.m. EST)

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Launch Complex 41

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Orbit: SDO will be placed into an inclined geosynchronous orbit

Orbital Period: SDO’s orbital period is approximately 24 hours

Mission Operations: Mission operations center will be located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

Satellite: 3-axis stabilized and fully redundant spacecraft.

Duration: SDO has a five-year science mission and carries enough fuel to operate for an additional five years.

Thermonuclear Art: 30 Minutes Of Solar Flares At 4K Resolution