Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January Maneuvers

Last Wednesday SDO did the HMI/AIA roll maneuver, where the satellite spins around to help the scientists better understand the instruments. Here's an example of an image during the roll at 1523 UTC. With the south pole on the left, the filaments look a little like a cat or harlequin!

This afternoon SDO will do the EVE cruciform, moving in a plus sign figure to measure how light reflects inside the instrument. From 1800-2300 UTC (1:00-6:00 pm ET) the Sun will appear to move around and be blurry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Short Outages in the SDO Website and Data Flow

Since Monday there have been several interruptions in the SDO website and data flow. On Monday a test of the Inertial Reference Units resulted in SDO pointing slightly off center for about 90 minutes. Some data may not be created during that time. On Monday and Tuesday our system administrators were updating the SDO website and, perhaps in anticipation of their impending replacement, one of the older RAIDs failed. There have been several interruptions as the SAs repair the issues and these will continue this week. SDO data continues to flow to the data centers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 was a Very Good Year

2015 was a great year for SDO! We finished our prime mission and began the first extended mission. Several hundred scientific papers appeared describing SDO data. And we made it onto several "Best Of" lists and magazine covers in 2015! Many of these were for the excellent 5th Year movie showing how the Sun changed over the prime mission. SDO was built to show us how the Sun changes in time and having the movie be a "Best Of" image means we doing just that.

Check out these:

  • Popular Science
  • Buzzfeed
  • IFLScience Top 10 Space Images 2015

    My favorite image of 2015 was the transit eclipse on Sept. 13, 2015. Here is an example of what that looked like in AIA 171. The sharp curve on the left is the Moon and the blurry curve at the top is the Earth moving out of the way. It was the first transit eclipse seen by SDO (probably a first for NASA) and the only lunar transit seen by SDO that was also seen as a solar eclipse on the Earth. Check out the movies of the transit eclipse at NASA.

    I want to thank and congratulate the great team that works to keep SDO data and science flowing.

    Even after almost 6 years in orbit SDO is GO!

  • Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    Data Outages Have Ended

    The data outages caused by snow and ice ended Monday morning when the Sun melted the last pieces of ice off of the SDO antennas.
    Many thanks to the FOT members who worked to keep the antennas pointed at SDO through a holiday weekend.

    Sunday, December 27, 2015

    Data Outages Due to Snow in Southern New Mexico

    Since last night, the SDO science telemetry downlink has been severely degraded due to snow and ice in southern New Mexico. The telemetry files being delivered to the SOCs have been partial for all three instruments. Accumulations of ice and or snow have probably collected on both SDO1 and SDO2 dishes. At the moment, conditions are still poor. The data outages will stop when the severe weather ceases.

    Monday, December 7, 2015

    Today's Occultation of Venus and the 2016 Mercury Transit Across the Sun

    Today Venus will disappear behind the Moon at varying times across the United States. It will not be visible from SDO as we do not have a lunar transit today. Please see the front page of for details on when to watch this occultation. You will need a pair of binoculars for the best view. Just find the Moon (a little ahead of the Sun in the sky) and watch as the bright dot of Venus goes behind it at about 12:30 p.m. ET.

    But that brings up occultations that SDO will see. Next year we will see a transit of Mercury across the disk of the Sun on May 9, 2016. Here is a movie of the transit (using our predicted ephemeris, but it should be fairly close.)

    The 2016 Mercury transit will last 7.5 hours. Mercury will touch the edge of the Sun at 1112 UTC (6:12 a.m. ET, called first contact), move completely into the disk at 1115 UTC, cross the center of the Sun at 1457 UTC, touch the far edge of the Sun at 1839 UTC, and leave the disk at 1842 UTC (1:42 p.m. ET, fourth contact). Unlike the 2012 Venus Transit, which was only visible in Alaska and Hawai'i, this transit will be visible throughout North America. People in the USA will be able to see most, if not all, of this transit.

    Mercury is smaller and further from the Earth, so, compared to the transit of Venus in 2012, it will be a smaller disk as it passes between SDO and the Sun. Due to the shorter orbital period, transits of Mercury are more common than transits of Venus.

    Johannes Kepler predicted a transit of Mercury would occur in November 1631. The first observed transit of Mercury was on November 7, 1631 by Pierre Gassendi. This was the first observed planet transit and showed that Kepler's equations of planetary motion could be used to predict the positions of planets.

    SDO will provide near-realtime pictures of the Mercury Transit at a dedicated webpage. More details as the time approaches.

    While you are waiting, grab your binoculars and go watch Venus disappear behind the Moon!

    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    See SDO 4k Movies and Projected over Dublin

    Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) is running a campaign in Dublin called City of Physics, showing the city of Dublin the beauty of physics. For their opening nights at the end of October, they projected images from the SDO instrument onto a city centre building. A short video is available to show the reaction of people in the city is at Check out the undergraduate students busy talking to Dubliners about SDO.

    When SDO was launched TVs were displaying 720p resolution. In the five years since we have seen TV screens at 1080p and now UltraHD (3840 pixels by 2160 pixels.) This means we can show half of the Sun in full SDO resolution on commercially available screens. As a result, NASA has released a new of 4k ultra-HD movies of SDO imagery. These are also on YouTube. But to get the full impact of the UltraHD resolution you need to download the movies from SVS website.

    The SDO webpage also has a list of UltraHD movies. We are planning to start releasing daily UltraHD movies.

    If only UltraHD allowed us to show the entire disk of the Sun at the native resolution of the SDO imagers! But that must await the next generation of screens.