See three years of solar activity in three minutes.
In the spring of 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, provided its first views of the sun. Since then the spacecraft has had virtually unbroken coverage of our star, capturing one image every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The collection of images chronicles the sun’s rise toward solar maximum, the peak of solar activity in its regular 11-year cycle. Repeatedly caught in the act were solar flares and coronal mass ejections, powerful eruptions that can send radiation and solar material toward Earth and interfere with satellite operations in space. SDO’s constant monitoring of the sun help scientists understand what causes these giant explosions—with the goal of someday improving our ability to predict this space weather. Watch the video to see a time-lapse sequence of SDO observations that spans three years in the life of the sun.