NASA’s SDO Watches A Sunspot Turn Toward Earth

July 12, 2017 – An active region on the sun, known as a sunspot, has rotated into view and seems to be growing quickly in this video captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory between July 5-11, 2017. This sunspot is the first to appear after the sun was spotless for two days, and it is the only sunspot group at the moment.

Sunspots are areas of complex magnetic activity on the sun, which can sometimes lead to solar eruptions, sending light and radiation out into space. Scientists study these spots in order to better understand what causes them to erupt.

Sunspots are a common occurrence on the sun, but are less frequent toward solar minimum, which is the period of low solar activity during its regular approximately 11-year cycle. Like freckles on the face of the sun, they appear to be small features, but size is relative: The dark core of this sunspot is actually larger than Earth.

Goddard Space Flight Center built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program.

SDO includes an instrument built in partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and another built by Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program.

SDO was launched on February 11, 2010 aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.