Solar Dynamics Observatory first light images to be released today

SDO First-Light Briefing

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun and its dynamic behavior. The spacecraft will provide images with clarity ten times better than high definition television and more comprehensive science data faster than any solar observing spacecraft in history. Beauty shot of the SDO satellite

Artist concept of SDO spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Goddard NASA will hold a news briefing and unveil initial images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, at 2:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 21, in the atrium of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. NASA Television and the agency’s Web site will provide live coverage of the briefing.

[Note: Insiders tell me that some of the images from the spacecraft show exquisite details of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Other SDO photos show extreme magnifications of activity on the sun’s surface, such as pores. The spacecraft also has made some high resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. The images are stunning I’m told. I’ll post them here as soon as they are available. – Anthony]

NASA, Newseum to Debut Images from Unique Solar Spacecraft

WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news briefing and unveil initial images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, at 2:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 21, in the atrium of the Newseum. The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, in Washington. NASA Television and the agency’s Web site will provide live coverage of the briefing.

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun and its dynamic behavior. The spacecraft will provide images with clarity ten times better than high definition television and more comprehensive science data faster than any solar observing spacecraft in history.

The participants for this briefing are:

  • Dean Pesnell, SDO project scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
  • Alan Title, principal investigator, Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument, Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Philip H. Scherrer, principal investigator, Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager instrument, Stanford University in Palo Alto
  • Tom Woods, principal investigator, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment instrument, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado in Boulder
  • Madhulika Guhathakurta, SDO program scientist, NASA Headquarters in Washington

The Newseum is a 250,000-square-foot museum of news that offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits.

For more information about NASA TV downlinks and streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Some of the images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show extreme close-ups of activity on the sun’s surface. The spacecraft also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

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53 thoughts on “Solar Dynamics Observatory first light images to be released today

  1. I think that I went to school with Dianne Micks. She hadn’t two halfpennies to rub together and now she has an Observatory.

  2. This is awesome, looking forward to seeing the images. I have studied the Sun for a long time and I recall when I was about 8 years old, while listening to teachers’ story time at primary school, I was doodling the Sun and a solar flare. My teacher, obviously annoyed that I wasn’t paying attention to the story, called me up to his desk to see what I was doodling. He was a bit surprised when he looked at it and after I described what it was.

  3. Figures that there would be no sunspots the day they unveil SDO.
    It’s the Watts Effect.
    Amateur Astronomers know this as the New Telescope Effect: You buy the scope of your dreams, get it home, and it rains for 3 months straight.

  4. Leif Svalgaard (04:11:09) :
    Is it like a real-time frame where they are capturing all day long?

  5. Gail Combs (03:41:02) :
    It hasn’t exactly behaved like solar cycles we’ve been used to seeing the last 100 years. I expect it to roll down a bit then back up.

  6. I don’t know a thing about SDO, sorry to say. Since it has photos, one ought to be able to measure temperature or at the very least contrast across sunspots. Does it have spectroscopic instruments?
    The real question – Leif, what does this mean for Bill Livingston’s fading sunspot measurements? I imagine he must be delighted to look at brightness/temperature data of sunspecks without the atmosphere getting in the way. Does he have any special time on SDO, or is the data he needs just coming as a matter of course?
    And, while I have the floor, what does Bill say about the recent bigger spots of SC24 so far?

  7. rbateman (04:36:07) :
    Is it like a real-time frame where they are capturing all day long?
    Yes, at a rate of 150 Megabytes per second ALL the time [equal to half a million mp3 songs per day].
    Ric Werme (04:43:21) :
    Does it have spectroscopic instruments?
    It is one big spectrograph.
    what does this mean for Bill Livingston’s fading sunspot measurements? […] the data he needs just coming as a matter of course?
    Just rolling in.
    And, while I have the floor, what does Bill say about the recent bigger spots of SC24 so far?
    The latest: http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png

  8. rbateman (04:41:56) :
    Gail Combs (03:41:02) :
    “It hasn’t exactly behaved like solar cycles we’ve been used to seeing the last 100 years….”
    When you compare apples to apples, it seems to be doing a pretty good job of imitating Solar cycle 5, at least for the first third of cycle 5. http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/50

  9. If the Solar Wind speed were to fall below a threshold, it can stop. Here is a report on what happened May 10-12, 1999.
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/ast13dec99_1/
    “Scudder and Fairfield theorized, the “strahl” electrons would flow unimpeded along the Sun’s magnetic field lines to Earth and precipitate directly into the polar caps, inside the normal auroral oval. Such a polar rain event was observed for the first time in May when Polar detected a steady glow over the North Pole in X-ray images.”
    “According to observations from the ACE spacecraft, the density of helium in the solar wind dropped to less than 0.1% of its normal value, and heavier ions, held back by the Sun’s gravity, apparently could not escape from the Sun at all.”
    Where are current measurements of the Solar Wind’s speed and density?

  10. Good. Because at the center of the climate issue is a unexplained warming trend in the 80’s to middle 90’s which required an explanation which was back filled in with manure by Gore & Co. called AGW. The unexplained bit is the difference between Leif’s and others observations that the sun has a .1K variance from angry to dead pan where a 1K input is needed to explain the warming trend (which has since decoupled). There has been a very interesting discussion of the TSI issues and others on a thread here at WUWT titled LEVY WALKS. Missing from the Sun-climate equation is a ‘mechanism’ a mysterious X-Force for which TSI is supposed to be a proxy? FYI————->
    ————————————————————-‘…………….LEIF to Nicola Scafetta (18:16:48) :
    Scarfetta:
    really? You surprise me! So, after all the sun is not constant (plus a 11-year cycle)!
    LEIF:
    If you would care to actually read my papers you would have been less surprised. In http://www.leif.org/research/The%20IDV%20index%20-%20its%20derivation%20and%20use.pdf you would find [paragraph 20]:
    “[20] The 11-year running mean (green line) of B over the period hints at the 100-year wave (±15%) often seen in solar activity and proxies thereof [Gleissberg, 1939].”
    Do you believe the TSI was completely and perfectly constant during that period?
    No, we do not believe that anymore. TSI at each solar minimum returns to the same value, so we surmise that it also did that during the MM. On top of that there would a ~12.5-yr smallish solar activity component. Cosmic ray modulation was considerable during all Grand Minima [that occur at random, BTW], so the magnetic cycle was still operating. Why sunspots were not seen, is unknown, but their magnetic field could have sunk to just below 1500 Gauss, which would cause them to be effectively invisible. Something like that may be happening right now, e.g. http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1003/1003.4281v1.pdf……….’
    And this:
    ‘…………………(from) Nicola Scafetta (19:11:08) :
    (to) Leif Svalgaard (18:45:09) :
    “Since TSI [or the mysterious X-force for which it is supposed to be a proxy] does not have any long-term trend [c.f. what I told you above], then what is that ‘astronomical influence’?”
    It is not true that solar activity does not have any long-term trend. Notice that I always use the TSI proxy models as approximate proxy of a generic solar activity. Nothing exclude me to use some other solar proxy for the purpose.
    Do not be impatient about the exact mechanism! before or later it will be found but the signal is there and also strong. Just, I do not believe that there is only one mechanism at work………….’
    ————————————————————

  11. tarpon (05:48:21) :
    Sounds a lot like they figured out technology advances with each new satellite launched. I would hope is does.
    Sort of the other way around. When we have new technology, new satellites are launched.

  12. This is really interesting stuff. Thanks for the comments. Will be fun to watch it live stream. (Well for a couple of minutes anyway.☺)
    When can we expect NASA to make dire predictions of something based on these new intensive sun observations going back a few days now? And, of course, WE are to blame. Keep Hansen away from this. ☺ ☺

  13. Surely this will spell the death knell to Mann, Jones, IPCC, the Numpty of Nashville,
    Hansen that the warming HAD to be blamed on something taxable….CO2.
    Playing Gores’ Lawyer:
    ‘The SDO has shown a marked increase in heating elements which will be trapped by CO2 and therefore we need to bring forward all legislation related to Omissions of AGW gases to next week (before any data gets analysed)’.

  14. In the fore front of the space-age evolution you never really read about any technology being anything less.
    The absoluteness a statement such as this: ‘Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun and its dynamic behavior.’ is I believe overly redundant. First of all it will not be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. Secondly who’d spend money on the results of the least advanced on Feb. 11, 2010?

  15. At last something worth spent!
    Can’t wait for the images. It’s 7:30pm in Europe at the moment 2 more hours left…

  16. Leif, please make sure that Hansen is kept faaaar away from this project!
    Before you know it, the sensors will be looking for “Dark Heat” !

  17. Prediction – the words “Climate Change” will come up more often than “Global Warming”.
    Note: The one who kisses first (ie: mentions “Climate Change” or “Global Warming”) is the traitor who sold their soul for 30 pieces of silver. The first to mention “Climate Change” is also the one who should have their ear cut off. If the audiance starts weeping and knashing their teeth then all is lost.
    PS: Any comments about already having learned something new and exciting from the initial data should be taken as “press release” talk for ‘we’re sure a hope’n and a pray’n we’re gonna learn something really good really soon but it’s really too soon to say for sure so please give us another 24 hours’.

  18. The Sun is in a LEIF CONSTANT state. A baseline TSI state. As proposed by
    Nicola Scarfeta. to Leif:
    ‘…………Just a curiosity. During the Maunder minimum no sunspots were seen. Do you believe the TSI was completely and perfectly constant during that period?
    I propose to call such a value the Leif’s constant 🙂 ………’
    20 04 2010

  19. kwik (10:08:40) :
    Before you know it, the sensors will be looking for “Dark Heat” !
    Well, most of the images SDO takes are at wavelengths invisible to the human eye 🙂

  20. NASA TV went to buffering after the woman said that “the sun controls the weather on earth”… when it came back on-line someone else was talking.

  21. Ref – Pascvaks (10:11:33) :
    “Prediction – the words “Climate Change” will come up more often than “Global Warming”.
    “Note: The one who kisses first (ie: mentions “Climate Change” or “Global Warming”) is the traitor who sold their soul for 30 pieces of silver. The first to mention “Climate Change” is also the one who should have their ear cut off. If the audiance starts weeping and knashing their teeth then all is lost.”
    __________________________
    The words “Global Warming” didn’t come up at all. The words “Climate Change” came up once, on a slide, presented during the comments of Madhulika Guhathakurta, SDO program scientist, NASA Headquarters in Washington.
    Apparently, as with the British MET Office, the problem is at the top of the chart. Wouldn’t ya know it?
    Fortunately for the planet, the audiance never started weeping and knashing their teeth and all was not lost.

  22. Pascvaks (12:39:11) :
    The words “Climate Change” came up once, on a slide, presented during the comments of Madhulika Guhathakurta
    She was just paying lip-service to the notion, and quickly went on. If you blinked, you’d have missing it.

  23. Leif: Is this thing really going to tell us anything we didn’t already know? I mean, we’ve had sensors tracking every layer this SDO is(?) but maybe not at the same resolution. I guess, what are the expectations on the (solar) street for this thing?

  24. Ref – Leif Svalgaard (12:46:43) :
    Pascvaks (12:39:11) :
    “The words “Climate Change” came up once, on a slide, presented during the comments of Madhulika Guhathakurta”
    “She was just paying lip-service to the notion, and quickly went on. If you blinked, you’d have missing it.”
    __________________________
    True. I don’t fault scientists, just the $cientists and Poli$ci-types at the top of the food chain. I really was surprised to catch that item during the briefing, it did go by without comment didn’t it? I actually thought the whole thing went off well; no political or religious rants. Maybe the winds are shifting; the pendilum is swinging back. Let’s hope.

  25. johnythelowery (13:13:27) :
    Leif: Is this thing really going to tell us anything we didn’t already know? I mean, we’ve had sensors tracking every layer this SDO is(?) but maybe not at the same resolution. I guess, what are the expectations on the (solar) street for this thing?
    There is a saying in solar physics: “the interesting things are always happening just below your best resolution”, so getting to a higher resolution always shows us something new. Also, many things happen fast, so getting a high time-resolution is important. For my own work, the helioseismic data will finally reach to the inner core of the Sun which is unexplored today. We should also be able to trace the ‘conveyor belt’ return flow, which we have never observed. Observing the birth of active regions will be possible by the high data cadence. And finally, since we are entering domains where we have never been [time and space wise] experience shows that whenever we do that, we learn something new, and, of course, at this time we cannot say what that will be.

  26. Hopefully this satellite can put the absurd “conveyor belt” model of solar convection into the trash can.

  27. Ray (11:58:54) :
    “NASA TV went to buffering after the woman said that “the sun controls the weather on earth”… when it came back on-line someone else was talking.”
    Incontestable! Without the sun all water would quickly freeze and stop the hydrological cycle. It is the sun that creates our weather.

  28. Tenuc (14:46:14) :
    Without the sun all water would quickly freeze and stop the hydrological cycle. It is the sun that creates our weather.
    No, it is the rotation of Earth on a tilted axis, that creates our weather.

  29. johnythelowery (10:12:32) :
    The Sun is in a LEIF CONSTANT state. A baseline TSI state. As proposed by
    Nicola Scarfeta. to Leif:
    ‘…………Just a curiosity. During the Maunder minimum no sunspots were seen. Do you believe the TSI was completely and perfectly constant during that period?
    I propose to call such a value the Leif’s constant 🙂 ………’
    20 04 2010
    ———
    REPLY:
    Hah! I was going to nominate this minimum as the “Svalgaard Minimum,” but I can’t figure out who to send the check to!
    Poetic, isn’t it?
    Regarding warming….I saw Dr. John Holdren, Pres. Obama’s chief science advisor, give a stem-winding lecture on global warming (no, not climate change!) at the Chicago Grand Challenges Summit. He had nice, colorful slides of red-hot polar regions, swooping graphs of temps going up & up etc.
    I had to bite my tongue! Don’t expect many changes to come out of the Obama administration is all I have to say, all I heard was gloom & doom.
    Here’s the program for the event I’m attending:
    http://www.iit.edu/grand_challenges/program/
    I had a great chat with Bill Kurtis about the failures & drawbacks of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, he seems like a nice guy.

  30. CRS, Dr.P.H. (21:17:24) :
    Hah! I was going to nominate this minimum as the “Svalgaard Minimum,” but I can’t figure out who to send the check to!
    Poetic, isn’t it?
    Regarding warming….I saw Dr. John Holdren, Pres. Obama’s chief science advisor, give a stem-winding lecture on global warming (no, not climate change!) at the Chicago Grand Challenges Summit. He had nice, colorful slides of red-hot polar regions, swooping graphs of temps going up & up etc.
    I had to bite my tongue! Don’t expect many changes to come out of the Obama administration is all I have to say, all I heard was gloom & doom.
    Here’s the program for the event I’m attending:
    http://www.iit.edu/grand_challenges/program/
    I had a great chat with Bill Kurtis about the failures & drawbacks of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, he seems like a nice guy
    ————————————————————-
    Leif has kindly decided, against the wishes of a WUWT poll to name the minimum a Svalgaard minimum, to name it if given the choice the Eddy Minimum after a colleague of his. Leif advises we won’t know if it’s in a minimum for another 30 years! or so.
    However, a Leif Constant……

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