NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was launched in February 2010 to help scientists learn more about the influence of the Sun’s corona on our planet.
About two weeks ago, the spacecraft captured incredibly detailed footage of a small eruption. The eruption took two hours, and SDO caught the moment as the flare was rising on the edge of the sun, and fall back into it.
Witnessing such an eruption is a rare event because the eruptions usually occur in the middle part of the sun. The ones at the sun’s edge are more likely to be seen.
The Observatory captured the eruption in ultraviolet light, used to allow the naked eye see the wavelengths of sunlight, explained the observatory’s project scientist, Dean Pesnell:
“Certain wavelengths either do not make it through Earth’s atmosphere or cannot be seen by our eyes, so we cannot use normal optical telescopes to look at the spectrum.”
Scientists want to learn more about the sun to predict powerful solar events, such as mass ejections from the corona, which send energy particles toward our planet, creating the beautiful aurora borealis and the dreadful geomagnetic storms.
The Parker Solar Probe
Aiding their research, the Parker Solar Probe lifted on 12 August 2018 towards the sun to improve the forecast of these events. However, the probe will not orbit our planet. It will get as close as possible to the sun, closer than any spacecraft has been. The lead investigator of an instrument on Parker’s board and a principal research scientist at JPL, Mark Wiedenbeck, concludes:
“We will be exploring a region of space that has never before been visited. We have ideas about what will be found, but the most important results may well come from observations that are completely unexpected.”
Soon, with enough information from both Parker and SDO, we will learn more about the solar flares and when they will get close to our planet and satellites.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere