Thursday, February 24, 2011

SDO/EVE Calibration Rocket Delayed

White Sands Missile Range has notified the EVE team that their calibration rocket is now delayed. The team will safe the payload and return to Boulder to await a new launch date.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SDO/EVE calibration rocket scrubbed for today

From the EVE team on status of the SDO/EVE underflight calibration rocket for today:

"Winds aloft have been steady and have been in red condition since getting here. WSMR has scrubbed the launch for today. Backup dates being discussed (Friday Feb 25 and Wednesday Mar 2 seem to be candidates at this time)."

(Updated March 23, 3:00pm ET): Launch has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 2

You can keep track of the status at the LASP Rocket website.

Go or no go?

The EVE calibration payload is ready to go, but what will the weather do? 

NASA sounding rocket 36.275 is scheduled to launch today (February 23, 2011) from the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).  The launch window is from 11:20-11:50 MST, but the forecast as of yesterday afternoon indicated that wind may be an issue. We hope the weather will cooperate, but if the wind is too severe, the launch will have to slip to a backup date.

We wish the best to the EVE team!  More information is at the LASP Rocket webpage.

Monday, February 21, 2011

AIA Images are Delayed in Processing

As of 10:00 am ET this morning the AIA images are about 15 hours delayed. The problems with the ground processing software have been corrected and the AIA data is being transferred to the JSOC in a FIFO queue. This means the earlier data is being sent before today's data. All science data has been captured from the instrument. HMI and EVE data are current at this time.

Solar storms and space weather were a feature at this year's meeting of the AAAS in Washington, DC. Story (including an AIA image) is at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

SDO Calibration Rocket, February 23, 2011

The next launch of our EVE calibration payload is on NASA sounding rocket 36.275 planned for February 23, 2011 from the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). This flight will provide the second underflight calibration for the SDO EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) instrument. The first calibration rocket flew on May 3, 2010 (NASA 36.258, the Black Brant rocket is shown "on the rail" at left).

The launch window is from 11:20-11:50 MST. This is near local noon to minimize the atmospheric absorption of the solar EUV radiation observed during the rocket flight. Unlike the TIMED rockets, where SEE had to also be turned on, EVE is taking data all the time.

More information is at the LASP Rocket webpage.

Due to security regulations, we cannot provide realtime coverage of the launch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The X Class Flare observed by SDO is the Astronomy Picture of the Day. view the APOD here

Read more about the Valentine's Day Solar Flare:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Highlights from SDO's First Anniversary

Check out the video that was shown during SDO's First Anniversary Party on 2/14/2011. The video is in the SDO Gallery or follow this link.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Enormous Flare in Progress in AR 1158

Active region 1158 let loose with an X2.2 flare at about 0150 UT or 8:50 pm ET on February 14. This makes it the biggest flare so far in Solar Cycle 24. AR 1158 is in the southern hemisphere, which has been lagging the north in activity but now leads in big flares!

Here is a blowup of the flaring region at 0153 UT (February 15, 2011) in AIA 335. Many of the short lines in the image are not part of the flare but are from light scattered on the inside of the telescope. More on that later.

Sit back and enjoy the show!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

M6.6 Solar Flare - Largest of this solar cycle

A M6.6 solar flare has just occurred, peaking at 17:38 UT on Feb 13. This is the largest solar flare so far from this solar cycle based on X-ray irradiance magnitude. Check for other movies and images on the SDO website!

Friday, February 11, 2011

SDO Launched One Year Ago!

At 10:23 am ET February 11, 2010, SDO launched from SLC 41. 108 minutes later SDO became a spaceship!

Happy Birthday SDO!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

SDO Moved to the Launch Pad and the Winds Blew!

On February 9, 2010 the launch vehicle carrying SDO moved from the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to the launch pad at SLC 41. It was quite an impressive display. The upper picture shows the view from the VIF. Two locomotives pushed the launch stack at a comfortable walking speed toward the pad in the distance. Trailers filled with SDO computers that would monitor the spacecraft until launch are in front of the rocket and will be pushed into tunnels for protection during launch.

The next photo shows the stack as it arrives at the pad. (The towers are lightning arrestors that surround the pad.) The grey spar next to the rocket is an important player in the launch sequence. It supports power and telemetry cables to the payload and the Centaur second stage (the narrow part of the stack.) It also carries a tube that blows clean nitrogen into the instruments to keep away contaminants. On February 10 it played a different role. That morning the launch window opened at 10:26 am ET. The winds must be below a maximum speed to allow a launch to proceed. One direction, from roughly the northwest, is the most critical because such a wind would push the spacecraft toward the spar. Of course, the strong weather pattern that was pounding the Snowmageddon Launch Team in Maryland produced such winds. After waiting 50 minutes at T-10 minutes, the spacecraft was ordered into the final 10 minutes of the countdown. Two seconds after that the spacecraft detected wind gusts that were too high and shut down.

SDO would remain on Earth for another day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today's Delta-H Maneuver

At 1940 UT (2:40 pm ET) on February 9, 2011 SDO will execute a Delta-H maneuver. This is a planned activity. Science data will be interrupted for about 30 minutes. The actual duration will be determined by the onboard software as it changes the reaction wheel speeds and fires the thrusters of the spacecraft to complete the maneuver. The goal is to adjust the reaction wheel speeds so we can maintain the pointing of the spacecraft over the next few months.

Here is a picture of a test thruster being fired on the ground in 2006 (we cannot see the actual thrusters on the spacecraft.) The thrusters should fire for up to 4 seconds.

UPDATE: The maneuver was completed using 66.6 gr of propellant with the thrusters firing for 4.05 sec. The satellite was pointing away from the Sun for about 15 min.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Winter is Colder Than Last, But We Launched in 2010

The winter of 2010 was cold, but the week of SDO's launch was also very snowy. Here is the surface weather map for February 8, 2010. An enormous low pressure system was developing in the Midwest and moving toward the east. STS-130 roared into space in the cold morning of February 8, 2010. A 24 hour period was required before trying to launch SDO on February 10. That enormous low would move over the mid-Atlantic and leave two feet of snow, on top of the two feet that were dropped on February 5-6! This 48 inches of snow greatly complicated the lives of the SDO team at Goddard. To launch SDO we had to be able to take control of the spacecraft when it separated from the Atlas/Centaur launch vehicle. If the SDO team was not at Goddard we could not launch. This meant that the launch team moved into Goddard on February 9, 2010 to wait for launch in their offices and nearby hotels.

Hats off to the Snowmageddon Launch Team!

Monday, February 7, 2011

We've Come a Long Way SDO

Just a little over a year ago, SDO was fueled and placed into a fairing. The next day we were hoisted to the top of our rocket. Here is one of our final looks at the spacecraft before it was sealed from sight.

It's been a great year!