Astronomers seeking to predict solar storms are receiving the first trickles of a wealth of new data, scientists reported this week.
The data come from a new satellite, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which became operational in late April. Launched on 11 February and costing US$856 million (including the first five years of operation), it is the inaugural mission in NASA's Living With a Star Program, intended to better understand the sources of solar magnetic storms.
According to Tom Woods, of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, solar scientists have taken an overly small-scale view of the Sun. "It's really revolutionized how we think about the Sun in terms of global-scale action," he says.
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