NASA to launch solar observatory

Jonathan Amos BBC News 02/10/2010 08:50
NASA to launch solar observatory - NASA - Science - Space - USA

The US space agency (Nasa) will attempt to launch its latest Sun probe on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory will acquire detailed images of our star to try to get a keener understanding of why it behaves the way it does.

An active Sun can disrupt satellite, communication, and power systems at Earth - especially when it billows charged particles in our direction.

Scientists want to see if they can forecast this "space weather" better.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will assist this drive by investigating the physics at work inside, on the surface and in the atmosphere of the Sun.

"SDO is the solar variability mission," said Lika Guhathakurta, the SDO programme scientist at Nasa Headquarters.

"It is going to revolutionise our view of the Sun and it will reveal how solar activity affects our planet, and help us anticipate what lies ahead.

"It will observe the Sun faster, deeper and in greater detail than any previous observations, breaking barriers of time, scale and clarity that have long blocked progress in solar physics."