Using three sophisticated instruments that will collect enormous amounts of data over short time scales, scientists hope to improve their ability to predict the onset of major flares and other phenomena that can disrupt communications, satellite navigation, and power grids.
"SDO will observe the sun almost continuously for more than five years, sending back data at an astounding rate of 1.5 terabytes per day," said Project Manager Elizabeth Citrin at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "That's almost 500,000 music downloads per day.
"With this wealth of data, we will learn how solar activity is created and how it will affect space weather. And space weather is what affects us humans here on Earth, our satellites, communications, power grids."
Madhulika Guhathakurta, lead scientist with NASA's Living with a Star program, said modern society's increasing dependence on satellite communications means "that any variability caused by the sun has an impact."
"Solar variability can affect human spaceflight, satellite operations, smart power grids, GPS navigation, emergency radio communications, air travel, financial services," she said.
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