Wednesday marked five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center marked the occasion with an amazing video of highlights of its last five years.
The movie shows giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.
The observatory provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day, capturing an image more than once per second.
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, according to NASA.
SDO also has its own Facebook page, and the agency posted a video from the observatory’s launch, showing the Atlas V rocket flying past a sundog hanging in the blue Florida sky and destroying it with its shockwaves as it passed, listen for the crowd’s reaction: