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Solar images show never-before-seen detail

April 21, 2010 at 4:08 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- NASA says even the first images taken by its recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory display details never before seen by solar scientists.

The space agency's astronomers said the observatory is returning data that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand the sun's dynamic processes.

"These initial images show a dynamic sun that I had never seen in more than 40 years of solar research," said Richard Fisher, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "SDO will change our understanding of the sun and its processes, which affect our lives and society. This mission will have a huge impact on science, similar to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on modern astrophysics."

NASA said the observatory, launched Feb. 11, is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun's magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. It is designed to provide images with clarity 10 times better than high-definition television and return more comprehensive science data faster than any other solar observing spacecraft.

The images are available at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003700/a003715/index.html.

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