Solar Dynamics Observatory
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Solar Dynamics Observatory(SDO) A solar exploration mission planned for launch by NASA in 2007 and the first mission in the agency's Living with a Star (LWS) Program. Set to carry out studies of the Sun's atmosphere in several wavelengths at the same time, SDO will seek to investigate the various transient changes caused by variations in the Sun's magnetic field and thereby help advance our understanding of such phenomena as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, alterations in the solar wind, and other bursts of energy connected with solar activity. These phenomena produce a set of effects described as ‘space weather’, which have a profound influence on the Earth; they not only produce such events as the aurora, but also cause immediate and long-term harm to electrical and communications equipment in groundbased systems, aircraft, and spacecraft. Unpredictable changes in solar radiation or energy output are potential hazards for astronauts working in the unprotected environment of space. SDO is also designed to study magnetic field variations in the Sun's interior, active regions and sunspots and how they develop, and the mechanisms that drive the 11-year solar cycle. Initially, its mission is set to last five years, with the possibility of an extension for a further five years.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006