Eclipse Season Begins For NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

On Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, NASA’s SDO saw a total solar eclipse in space. These images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, a type of light that is typically invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in purple. Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Joy Ng

February 13, 2018 – On Sunday, February 11, 2018, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) saw a total solar eclipse in space when Earth crossed its view of the Sun. Also known as a transit, Earth’s passage was brief, lasting from 12:10 a.m. to 12:41 a.m. MST and covering the entire face of the Sun.

This marks the beginning of another eclipse season for SDO — as well as the mission’s eighth launch anniversary. SDO’s orbit is designed to maximize the amount of data the spacecraft can send back to Earth, but twice a year, Earth gets in the way of the spacecraft’s view. SDO’s eclipse seasons are three-weeks long, during which Earth blocks SDO’s view of the Sun for a short time each day.

The spring eclipse season began on February 10 with a partial eclipse and concludes March 5, 2018. The eclipses are fairly short near the beginning and end of the season but ramp up to 72 minutes in the middle.

Most spacecraft observing the Sun from an orbit around Earth have to contend with such eclipses.

The University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory contributed to the SDO mission. 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.