To boldly go with SDO

Posted: February 8, 2010 by tallbloke in Uncategorized

SDO-NASA Mission

Post updated with launch pics! See below

We don’t usually do “current affairs” here, but this news release from NASA is worthy of a post, for several reasons.

First and foremost, it is an exciting mission, which NASA dubs:The ‘Variable Sun’ Mission”. This is in itself a fresh departure, since NASA has been firmly in the “It can’t be anything else so it must be co2″ camp for years. Someone at mission control must have seen which way the solar wind is blowing, and has realized that what is needed is a “Five year mission to the centre of the solar system, to explore new worldviews, seek out new climate variables…  To Boldly Go where no Mann has gone before”.

Secondly, it  is of genuine interest to those of us who know that the Sun is a lot more variable than some (mentioning no names, Dr S.) have hitherto had people believe. The probe is designed to study the regions of the Sun’s broad range of radiation wavelengths and particle emissions which have the most variability, the extreme ultra-violet and the solar wind.

‘Solar constant’ is an oxymoron, says Judith Lean of the Naval Research Lab. “Satellite data show that the sun’s total irradiance rises and falls with the sunspot cycle by a significant amount.”

So, enough of the hyperbole, what about the hardware?
The SDO’s AIA  ‘Atmospheric Imaging Assembly‘ will image the solar atmosphere in multiple wavelengths to link changes in the surface to interior changes. Data will include images of the Sun in 10 wavelengths every 10 seconds. It will have 1/2 greater image resolution than STEREO  and 3/4 greater imaging resolution than SOHO at a resolution of about 1 arcsec. The image cadience also varies. SDO takes 1 image every  second. At best STEREO takes 1 image every 3 minutes and SOHO takes 1 image every 12 minutes.

The EVE instrument has 70 times better spectral resolution in the Extreme UV than current measurements and has 30 times better time cadence / duty cycle to to understand variations on the timescales which influence Earth’s climate and near-Earth space.

Specific scientific objectives for the HMI instrument are to measure and study:

  1. Convection-zone dynamics and the solar dynamo;
  2. Origin and evolution of sunspots, active regions and complexes of activity;
  3. Sources and drivers of solar magnetic activity and disturbances;
  4. Links between the internal processes and dynamics of the corona and heliosphere;
  5. Precursors of solar disturbances for space-weather forecasts.

The HMI instrument will produce measurements in the form of filtergrams in a set of polarizations and spectral line positions at a regular cadence for the duration of the mission that meet these basic requirements:

  1. Full-disk Doppler velocity and line-of-sight magnetic flux images with 1.5 arc-sec resolution at least every 50 seconds.
  2. Full-disk vector magnetic images of the solar magnetic field with 1.5 arc-sec resolution at least every 10 minutes.

H/t to Oliver Manuel and Gray Stevens

Launch has been delayed again:
The new scheduled launch will be on Wednesday February 10, 2010 at 10:30

Bon Voyage SDO!

Update 11-02-2010

The Launch was a peach. Textbook precision from NASA.  Congrats to all involved.

  1. tallbloke says:

    Oliver Manuel said:

    NASA’s changed attitude is widespread and shocking in the news release about NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory: The ‘Variable Sun’ Mission. headlines/y2010/05feb_sdo.htm? list1073366

    It includes these comments from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), NASA Headquarters, NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the University of Colorado.

    1. From NASA Headquarters: “The sun,” explains Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters in Washington DC, “is a variable star.”

    2. From NRL: “Understanding solar variability is crucial,” says space scientist Judith Lean of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC. “Our modern way of life depends upon it.”

    3. From NAS: “According to a 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences, a century-class solar storm could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.”

    4. From the Marshall Space Flight Center: “The depth of the solar minimum in 2008-2009 really took us by surprise,” says sunspot expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “It highlights how far we still have to go to successfully forecast solar activity.”

    5. From Boulder, CO: “If human eyes could see EUV wavelengths, no one would doubt that the sun is a variable star,” says Tom Woods of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

    6. From NRL: “‘Solar constant’ is an oxymoron,” says Judith Lean of the Naval Research Lab. “Satellite data show that the sun’s total irradiance rises and falls with the sunspot cycle by a significant amount.”

    7. From NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center: “Understanding the inner workings of the solar dynamo has long been a ‘holy grail’ of solar physics,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Now DOE (Department of Energy) scientists need to admit or deny that N-N repulsion is the energy source that powers the Sun and generates the cycles of solar magnetic activity that are empirically linked with changes in Earth’s climate.

    Thank you for encouraging NAS, NASA, the Goddard and Marshall Space Flight Centers, and NRL to re-examine old dogmas.

    Now we need to pressure DOE scientists to reconsider their dogma about N-N interactions.

  2. Thanks, Tallbloke, for the mission description: “To Boldly Go where no Mann has gone before”.

    The changed attitude at NASA is illustrated in the comments of Dr. David Hathaway now and eight years ago:

    On 17 July 2002 a UPI Science News reporter, Dan Whipple, quotes Dr. David Hathaway [“An iron Sun: Groundbreaking or cracked?”, UPI News report Wednesday, July 17, 2002 6:50:07 PM EST]:

    “This is crackpot science. We’ve got information on the composition of the Sun from a variety of different sources … There’s no way it’s mostly iron. We would have known that a century ago.”

    On 05 February 2010 a NASA Science reporter, Dr. Tony Phillips, quotes Dr. David Hathaway [“Solar Dynamics Observatory: The ‘Variable Sun’ Mission]:

    “The depth of the solar minimum in 2008-2009 really took us by surprise,” … “It highlights how far we still have to go to successfully forecast solar activity.”

    Cold weather and snow seems to have cleared NASA’s thinking.

  3. Geoff Sharp says:

    The SDO mission is indeed exciting. Scheduled for lift off feb 10 1526 UTC. Then allow around 60 days for the data if all goes to plan.

    The Layman’s count will rise to a new level with the expected SDO data.

  4. Right, Geoff, the time schedule and the news release on SDO are both consistent with the public attention span:

    However, NASA (and NAS) cannot use the SDO mission to “come clean” and admit that the Sun is an iron-rich plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass until the US Department of Energy (DOE) has admitted that:

    a.) Solar neutrinos from H-fusion do not oscillate away, and

    b.) Neutron repulsion is a greater source of nuclear energy than H-fusion or U-fission

    Click to access jfe-neutronrep.pdf

    Oh what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practice to deceive!


  5. tallbloke says:

    Geoff: Please give us all a link to your laymans count. The current sunspot number of 71 on the widget to the right seems a little unlikely when I compare solar cycle 24 to earlier low cycles.

    Oliver: Not long to wait for some interesting data!
    I saw a statement while I was browsing around the various sites that all the data will be in the public domain.

  6. Geoff Sharp says:

    The Layman’s Count is available at

    The NOAA figures are really no more reliable than what we see from GISS. I have recently taken down the widget you mention, the values are way overstated, the flux values are not adjusted for our elliptical orbit and the data is usually not up to date. Currently it is showing 1047 which is measuring 1 pixel!

  7. tallbloke says:

    Brilliant, thanks Geoff. 4 mins to launch.

    ETA: Rats – ran out of launch window.

  8. Geoff Sharp says:

    We are within 2 hours of the next SDO chance for launch….NASA telling us the likelihood for lift off at about 60%

  9. Gray says:

    Hi Tallbloke,

    Has it launched yet?


  10. tallbloke says:

    Geoff, thanks for the update. I’ll be sneaking a peak on my work monitor at coffee break this afternoon.

  11. tallbloke says:


  12. Gray says:

    CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA began a five-year mission to study the sun this morning with the successful launch of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

    Winds had forced launch officials to postpone the mission on Wednesday — and gusts were a concern again today — but NASA gave the green light to launch at 10:23 a.m. and the Atlas V rocket slowly rose through light cloud cover on a cold and breezy morning.

    The rocket carried a new space weather satellite called the Solar Dynamics Observatory into orbit around Earth. Astronomers hope the SDO can help them learn more about the physics of the sun and, in turn, help them better predict solar events that affect life here on Earth.

    About the size of a bus, the 15-foot-long SDO will carry three science instruments: a high-speed camera, another device that will record the sun’s ultraviolet brightness and an imager that uses sounds waves to map the sun’s interior — similar to how an ultrasound produces fetal images.

    The equipment will be used to record solar activity such as sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, a plasma blast that shoots from the sun. Despite the 93 million mile distance between the Earth and Sun, these events can damage satellites, knock out communications and potentially hurt astronauts.

    By learning more about the sun’s interior, scientists hope to gain greater insight into the 11-year solar cycle and the process in which the sun changes its magnetic polarity from north to south, or back again. Solar events are most frequent around this switch and the SDO will record changes in the sun’s magnetic field to improve space weather forecasting, similar to how hurricane experts use broad climate conditions to estimate the number of storms each season.

    Helping the SDO mission, which will be operated out of Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, will be super-fast computer equipment. NASA officials said the SDO will record solar images about once every second and beam about about 1.5 terabytes of data back to Earth every day, which the agency compared to the equivalent of streaming 380 full-length movies.

    “This is going to be sensational,” said Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement. “SDO is going to make a huge step forward in our understanding of the sun and its effects on life and society.”

    NASA expects the $850 million mission to last five years, although the probe has enough fuel to stay active in its orbit around Earth for about 10 years.

  13. tallbloke says:

    Post updated with launch pics

  14. Gray says:

    SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY: The most advanced solar observatory ever built launched from Cape Canaveral last Thursday, Feb. 11th, on five-year mission to study the sun. NASA says the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is “in good shape” as the post-launch checkout of spacecraft systems continues. The first IMAX movies of solar explosions should hit the screens in April.

  15. Thanks, Gray, for reminding us that NASA’s SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY is “in good shape.”

    NASA will regain some credibility if SDO discovers the reason why the top of the Sun’s atmosphere is:

    a.) 91% Hydrogen, element #1, and

    b.) 9% Helium, element #2.

    NASA’s scientists probably already know that:

    a.) Hydrogen is the lightest known element

    b.) Helium is the next lightest known element.

    c.) Solar neutrinos do not really oscillate away.

    With kind regards,

  16. Today’s news that IPCC’s Dr. Rajendra Pachauri is under investigation, reconciliatory messages of Professors Judith Curry and Jerome Ravetz on WUWT, and NASA’s new attitude of humility in its 5 Feb 2010 news release on the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

    – “We only want to work together with you now to find the truth about global warming and the role of the variable Sun in it” . . .

    . . . are, in my opinion, well coordinated acts of appeasement.

    The Climategate scandal has exposed the dark, shadowy outline of an international alliance of politicians [US’s Al Gore, UN’s Rajendra Pachauri, UK’s Tony Blair, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany’s Angela Merkel, etc.], news media [BBC, PBS, CBS, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times], public research agencies [NAS, NASA, EPA, DOE, etc], and research journals [Nature, Science, etc.] that seek to use science and scientists as a propaganda tool to save the world, after first getting in a position of control.

    I do not doubt that their goals were initially noble – to eliminate national boarders and thus save the world from mutual nuclear destruction – as were the goals of other self-appointed world rulers.

    Their immediate, short-term goal is preservation of their position of power. That will probably require them to appease climate critics ASAP, before the critics discover and insist on dismantling the research agencies that have manipulated data, public funds, and publications to hide these empirical facts:

    01. Anthropologic CO2 is no more dangerous than water. CO2 did not cause global warming. Earth’s heat source is the Sun, a variable star.

    02. Neutron repulsion – not Hydrogen fusion – powers the Sun and the cosmos. Nuclear rest mass data, when plotted against charge density, Z/A, reveals neutron repulsion in every nucleus. Neutron-emission from the solar core, followed by neutron-decay and partial fusion of the neutron decay product generates solar luminosity, solar neutrinos, and solar wind H in the proportions observed. H pouring from the surface of the Sun and other stars fills interstellar space with this waste product.

    03. The top of the solar atmosphere is 91% Hydrogen (H) and 9% Helium (He) because H is the lightest element (element #1) and He is the next lightest one (element #2). Solar mass fractionation is experimentally observed across isotopes (3 to 136 atomic mass units) in the solar wind and across s-products (25 to 207 amu) in the photosphere.

    04. The Sun discards 50,000 billion metric ton of H each year in the solar wind. If the Standard Solar Model (SSM) of a H-filled Sun were correct then the Sun is discarding its own fuel!

    05. Nuclear manner is mostly dissociating, rather than fusing together, in the Sun and in the cosmos. Gravity is a nuclear force, because almost all of the mass of each atom is in its nucleus. Dynamic competition between the long-range force of gravity and the short-range force of neutron repulsion powers the Sun and the universe.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Emeritus Professor
    Nuclear & Space Science
    Former NASA PI for Apollo

  17. tallbloke says:

    It’s interesting that the headline image to this post has gone AWOL. If NASA requested it’s removal by WordPress, I’m flattered that they are taking an interest in our heresy.

    I got the crayon box out to replace it with some original artwork. Pretty nifty eh? 🙂

  18. Yes, NASA is great at hiding data or comments that might later embarrass it, e.g., the UPI news on 17 July 2001 where the very distinguished NASA solar physicist, Dr. David Hathaway, remarked that the concept of an iron-rich Sun “is crackpot science.”

  19. Tenuc says:

    I think we will find many contradiction to the accepted solar model once SDO gets operational.

    It is indicative of the inadequacy of the standard model when the worlds leading experts came up with such wildly differing attempts to predict the current cycle. I’m hoping that the SDO information will be available to everyone so that progress can be made to our understanding – closed science just leads to closed minds.

  20. tallbloke says:

    I can’t find the page now, but I’m pretty sure I read a commitment to making the data publicly available somewhere on NASA’s SDO site.

  21. Time to revisit:

    EARTH,Shahinaz M. Yousef,
    Astronomy &Meteorology Dept.
    Faculty of Science -Cairo University

    Click to access cli267_293.pdf

  22. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Aldofo Giurfa; the above paper is an interesting read.
    From many different directions the arrows all point toward the same thing.
    Thank you. pg

  23. Tenuc says:

    Thanks for posting the paper Aldofo. It is obvious that there is a strong link between the Earth and Sol climate, although I’m not sure what the cause and effects are. This is a broad-brush pattern of what the coupled chaotic deterministic system produces here on Earth:-

    1410-1500 cold – Low Solar Activity(LSA?)-(Sporer min)
    1510-1600 warm – High Solar Activity(HSA?)
    1610-1700 cold – (LSA) (Maunder minimum)
    1710-1800 warm – (HSA)
    1810-1900 cold – (LSA) (Dalton minimum)
    1910-2000 warm – (HSA)
    2010-2100 (cold???) – (LSA???)

  24. rjtomes says:

    “To Boldly Go where no Mann has gone before” … Love it!

    According to my analysis, the strongest natural cycles in the Sun that affect climate have these periods and phases:

    1. 2300 year cycle is rising since low in LIA and will be going up for hundreds of years yet.

    2. 208 year de Vries cycle was rising throughout 20th century, reaching a high in mid to late 1990s. Now it is going down for the whole 21st century.

    3. ~50-60 year cycle was low ~1910, high ~1940, low ~1965, high ~1995, therefore low ~2020-2025.

  25. Gray says:

    A bit of news on the mission:

    SDO First-Light Briefing

    Artist concept of SDO spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Goddard
    NASA will hold a news briefing and unveil initial images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, at 2:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 21, in the atrium of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Newseum is located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. NASA Television and the agency’s Web site will provide live coverage of the briefing.

  26. johnnythelowery says:

    Oliver: What do you think of what they’ve shown so far from the SDO. Probably too early to tell. Do you think the instruments, and their resolution, is going to shed more light (oops…exscuse the pun) on this ‘Iron Sun’ theory? Is it definitively going to tells us one way or another do you think? And if so, how long will it take them to figure things out? Cheers….JOhnnny

  27. johnnythelowery says:

    BTW–Tall Bloke…..I think your site needs a ‘home’ button to take me to the table of topic titles, etc.
    Maybe I’m missing something but most sites have one and I can’t find one here so I get here by clicking on your name in the comments section of a thread which I found by experimentation. 🙂 Cheers…. Johnnny

  28. Ninderthana says:

    Stumbled across your site while wandering around the WEB. Absolutely superb!

    Any chance of adding a link to my blog at:

    I will add your site to my blog roll!


    Ian Wilson

  29. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Ian ; Looked up your may 19 graphic of solar cross section on rotation and conduction, interesting. thank you, pg

  30. tallbloke says:

    Ian, thanks for the kind words. I’ve now added your site to my blog list on the right. Very interesting work you have been doing, keep it up!

  31. Tenuc says:

    Thanks Ian for the link explaining how a small effect from planetary alignment could have a major impact on solar processes.

    The NASA site has an article “Spacecraft Reveals Small Solar Events Have Large Scale Effects”, here:-

    I also think that changes to the solar system magnetic field caused by different planetary alignments can effect the sun.

  32. johnnythelowery says:

    Any news from the brains trust on this site. Is the SDO asking any questions????? Is it answering any???

  33. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Gray. The meridional flows interest me. It says they go from equator to poles, but I wonder if there is a concomitant flow from poles to equator at a deeper level.

  34. Gray says:

    It does seem likely. The acoustic part was also interesting but ultimately the whole team accept that they don’t know. Something of a starting point?

    Ian Wilson’s blog was very interesting.

  35. Tenuc says:

    Thanks for posting that interesting Scientific American article, Gray.

    This paragraph is revealing:-

    ” After hearing his colleagues various approaches to investigating the sun’s behaviour, Hill took stock of a field with many open questions. ‘My main impression of all this is I’m gratified to see that we all agree that this is an interesting minimum,’ Hill said. ‘What’s not so gratifying is we have no clue why any of these effects are happening.’ ”

    If this is the best we can expect from those who believe the current standard solar model, no wonder we can’t understand Earth’s climate!

  36. P.G. Sharrow says:

    AR least they admit that they have no clue. A very good start. pg

  37. slimething says:

    Warming Due To Ultraviolet Effects Through Ozone Chemistry

    Click to access Warming_Due_To_Ultraviolet_Effects_Through_Ozone_Chemistry.pdf

  38. tallbloke says:

    If you find that stuff interesting (it is), pay a visit to Erl Happ’s blog. (link on right of page).

  39. tallbloke says:

    Well, we are certainly getting out money’s worth out of SDO look at this movie!