The Solar Dynamics Observatory-A “Hubble Telescope” for the Sun

You won’t want to miss these fantastic solar images from the new Solar Dynamics Observatory.  The movies at the NASA Science News site are simply incredible, and well-worth the download time!

At a press conference today in Washington DC, researchers unveiled “First Light” images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space telescope designed to study the sun.

“SDO is working beautifully,” reports project scientist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “This is even better than we could have dreamed.”

An erupting prominence observed by SDO on March 30, 2010 Credit:SDO/AIA

“We’ve seen solar prominences before—but never quite like this,” says Alan Title of Lockheed Martin, principal investigator of the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the observatory’s main telescope array. “Some of my colleagues say they’ve learned new things about prominences just by watching this one movie.”

SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star (LWS) program. The goal of LWS is to understand the sun as a magnetic variable star and to measure its impact on life and society on Earth. Program scientist Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters envisions big things for the new observatory:

“SDO is our ‘Hubble for the sun’,” she says. “It promises to transform solar physics in the same way the Hubble Space Telescope has transformed astronomy and cosmology.”

To see stunning QuickTime movies go to:

First Light for the Solar Dynamics Observatory

To learn more about the Solar Dynamics Observatory, go here:

http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/05feb_sdo/

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