At a press conference today in Washington DC, researchers unveiled "First Light" images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space telescope designed to study the sun.
"SDO is working beautifully," reports project scientist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is even better than we could have dreamed."
Launched on February 11th from Cape Canaveral, the observatory has spent the past two months moving into a geosynchronous orbit and activating its instruments. As soon as SDO's telescope doors opened, the spacecraft began beaming back scenes so beautiful and puzzlingly complex that even seasoned observers were stunned.
Source: Science at NASA
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Here is one of the movies of an erupting prominence observed by SDO on March 30, 2010 in HD resolution:
The geek in me is impressed, and is eagerly wading through the images and awaiting the papers that are sure to follow as scientists share what they are learning about the sun.