The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) just passed its 5 years mark. To commemorate this event, NASA released a video showing some of the most notable events captured during this time. And given the scope of the information that has been collected, it's no surprise that much of the footage is simply breathtaking.
The SDO is a spacecraft that provides detailed images of the sun, around the clock, in order to help scientists better understand the various mechanisms that operate within our star. The SDO takes an image roughly every second. To date, it has collected more than 200 million image.That's approximately 2,600 terabytes of data to sift through.
In the video, we see massive coronal mass ejections, solar flares, sunspots boiling at the surface, and even the transit of Venus (here, the planet can be seen moving quietly across the surface of the Sun). The NASA release notes that this video offers viewers a glimpse of what SDO is capable of:
The imagery is an example of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths – and therefore different temperatures – scientists can watch how material courses through the corona, which holds clues to what causes eruptions on the sun, what heats the sun's atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the sun's magnetic fields are constantly on the move.