With its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), NASA will probe the Sun in greater detail than ever before and, with luck, begin to answer some of its biggest mysteries.
by: Bill Andrews, Assistant Editor
February 2, 2010
Despite being our planet's nearest star, the Sun can still perplex scientists, who don't understand much of its behavior and its effects on our weather system. NASA plans to launch a satellite February 9 that will gather more data than ever before about the Sun and — scientists hope — begin to provide answers.
Taking off on an Atlas V rocket, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will observe the Sun's atmosphere and inner workings with more precision than ever before, including collecting 60 images a minute with 10 times the resolution of high-definition television. It will be the first mission of NASA's Living With a Star Program.
"SDO will take full-disk, high-definition images of the Sun all of the time," says project manager Liz Citrin at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "These advances will provide the data to better understand how the Sun works and will allow us to develop the tools to predict its behavior."
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