News & Views
- Category: News & Views
- Created: Friday, 23 April 2010 17:42
- Written by Charles Doane
I know, I know. The Aquatic Miracles angle on this one is a little attenuated. But the sun, as our primary heat source, is ultimately responsible for all our weather, and of course keeps our oceans liquid as opposed to solid. Which is a nice feature when it comes to oceans. Besides, I have always been fascinated by unmanned space probes (e.g., check my Yachts of Titan post from a while back). They truly are the great exploratory seafarers of our age.
The image you see here was collected by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a spacecraft launched back in February to collect new data on the sun. It is one of the very first SDO images to arrive and was released earlier this week. This particular image, part of an Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment, was taken on March 30. In this color scheme, reds are cool (about 110,000 degrees F) and blues and greens are hot (about 1.8 million degrees F).
Apparently what makes SDO special is that it shoots pix at various wavelengths and at extremely high resolution. Ten times the clarity of HD-TV, according to NASA. So it should be to the sun what the Hubble telescope has been to the rest of the universe, and then some. So get set for lots fresh info on how the sun really works. This will inevitably increase our knowledge of weather on Earth and may also help improve sat nav and communications reliability, as solar activity is a big random factor and potential irritant in those departments.
You can learn more about SDO and see more early pix, including some mind-blowing videos here. Note, too, that NASA is doing a much better job of naming stuff these days. Seems SDO is phase one of what the agency is calling its "Living With a Star Program." Which raises the question: will we someday get around to learning to live without one???
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