GREENBELT, Md., May 25 (UPI) — NASA says its Solar Dynamics Observatory has allowed scientists for the first time to comprehensively view the dynamic nature of storms on the sun.
“Solar storms have been recognized as a cause of technological problems on Earth since the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century,” the space agency said, noting the spacecraft’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly — one of three instruments aboard SDO — is allowing scientists to discover that even minor solar events are never truly small scale.
“Even small events restructure large regions of the solar surface,” said Alan Title, the AIA’s principal investigator at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif. “It’s been possible to recognize the size of these regions because of the combination of spatial, temporal and area coverage provided by AIA.”
Scientists said the instrument also has observed a number of very small flares that have generated magnetic instabilities and waves with effects over a substantial fraction of the solar surface. They said data from SDO are providing a torrent of new information and spectacular images to be studied and interpreted.
Launched in February, the spacecraft’s commissioning May 14 confirmed all three of its instruments successfully passed an on-orbit checkout and were collecting science data.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.