Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Space Telescope to Watch the Sun

A new solar telescope, scheduled to launch this winter, will probe the sun's atmosphere and inner workings, helping scientists better understand how solar storms.

During its five-year mission, the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will seek to reveal how the sun's magnetic field works, what governs the ups and downs of the solar cycle and how solar activity affects Earth.

"The sun is a magnetic variable star that fluctuates on times scales ranging from a fraction of a second to billions of years," said Madhulika Guhathakurta, lead program scientist for the Living With a Star program (of which SDO is a part) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. "SDO will show us how variable the sun really is and reveal the underlying physics of solar variability."

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