Have you ever wondered what the surface of the Sun looks like as it changes daily? A new video from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center gives space fans a front-row seat to 133 days on the Sun. The Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the images in the video, and this new Sun time-lapse showcases the surface of our star in greater detail than ever.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a spacecraft that launched in 2010 as part of NASA’s Living with a Star (LWS) program. The spacecraft was intended to operate for just five years, but the SDO continues to deliver extraordinary views of our Sun. Each image in the time-lapse was captured 108 seconds after the previous image.
This allowed engineers and astronomers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center plenty of time to stuff into the Sun time-lapse, while also giving viewers a broad look at the changes that skirt across the Sun’s surface on a daily basis. And, because the SDO is in a geosynchronous orbit, it sees plenty of the star in each image.
Over the course of its lifetime, the SDO has captured thousands of terabytes of data, with it capturing over 70,000 images (roughly 1.5 terabytes of data) in just one day. That’s a ton of data to go through, especially when you consider that it isn’t just capturing images for a time-lapse of the Sun. It’s also measuring the Sun’s magnetic field, the interior, and its hot plasma.
NASA also launched the Parker Solar Probe in 2018, which has since touched the Sun’s chromosphere, allowing us to come closer than ever to interacting directly with our solar system’s star. The observations from Parker and the SDO will no doubt help us better track solar weather, like dangerous solar flares and coronal mass ejections.