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Witness a decade's worth of solar activity in NASA's radiant new time-lapse video

By Jeff Spry

Since 2010, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has diligently observed our warming star and delivered back to its mission control ground team a wealth of astonishing images of the shining object in never-seen detail.

The Sun-pointing semi-autonomous craft allows nearly continuous staring at its glaring face with a perpetual science data downlink rate of 130 Megabits per second (Mbps). 

Now a scintillating new time-lapse video of one decade in the life of the Sun in 60 minutes was just released by NASA, and it's a mesmerizing display of the star's mercurial stirrings and immense elemental power. Each second of video time represents one day in the life of the Sun.

Slip on some shades and look into its fantastic golden flares and plasma jets!

"A Decade of Sun" condenses 425 million high-definition images, snapped once every 0.75 seconds within the period of June 2, 2010, and June 1, 2020. This hypnotic composite video celebrates the 10th anniversary of the SDO probe and all its myriad achievements in understanding the solar variations that affect and transform life on Earth.

Launched on February 11, 2010, from Cape Canaveral, SDO's mission is to study how solar activity is created and how Space Weather is spawned out of that intense activity that disrupts Earth's technology systems and communications networks. It accomplishes these tasks by determining how the Sun's magnetic field is generated, and how this stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and aberrations in the solar irradiance.


The vigilant SDO has now been watching the Sun non-stop for over a full decade. Standing guard in an inclined geosynchronous orbit in space around Earth, it has amassed over 20 million gigabytes of data over the last 10 years and enabled countless discoveries about the intricate workings of our 4.6 billion-year-old star and how it influences the entire solar system.

Equipped with a trio of sensitive  instruments, the SDO's brilliant 10-year time-lapse short spotlights photos taken at a wavelength of 17.1 nanometers, which is an extreme ultraviolet wavelength that unveils the Sun’s outermost atmospheric layer, the shimmering corona.

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