ScienceShot: A Psychedelic Sun

NASA’s latest eye on the sun sure beats a pinhole camera. Launched into geosynchronous orbit on 11 February, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) returned this extreme ultraviolet, false-color image on 30 March as part of the 1.5 terabytes of data it returns each day. In the shot, released today, reds are only 60,000 kelvin, whereas blues and greens are over 1 million kelvin. The gaseous loop in the upper left spans 30 Earth diameters. During its 5-year mission, SDO’s three instrument packages will image the sun over a wide range of wavelengths to decipher how solar magnetic fields are converted into violent solar flares and coronal mass ejections that can wreak havoc with electronics here on Earth.