"Live" Solar Image as Part of Website Design

AIA 304
Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

Solar Dynamics ObservatoryOur website features a continually updated image of the sun provided by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in the header background on our home page. The featured image is a very high resolution image of the sun taken by SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) and refreshed every hour.

The picture above is the latest sample 304 wavelength image (you may need to refresh the page to see the latest image). Additional SDO images from its multiple instruments can be viewed here.

Not your standard top-of-the-mountain dome-shaped observatory, SDO is a truck-sized satellite orbiting Earth, staring at the sun with three suites of instruments at all times. The AIA takes images of the sun at various wavelengths. The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) captures magnetograms, intensitygrams and doplergrams. And, the Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) hosts a pinhole X-ray imager and other instruments that collect a wide range of in-depth data. SDO was launched Feb. 11, 2010.

Why Monitor Solar Activity?


NOAA SWPCThe sun is a giant violent ball of burning gas more than 100 times larger than Earth that spews out particles in all directions via solar flares or coronal mass ejections (CMEs). When the number and speed of those particles increase out of the norm toward Earth, they can cause problems with our technology in space, including communications and logistics. Flares and CMEs can even cause powergrid blackouts on the ground. Monitoring and forecasting solar storms/weather can help prevent issues by giving operators time to temporarily shut down satellites or take steps to prevent damage. The images above feature Auroral Activity Extrapolated from NOAA POES, courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

How SDO's AIA 304 are Placed into the Design

AIA 304 most Every hour, we pull a fresh sun image from the AIA website and alter it to fit the design of www.SpaceFoundation.org.

Our circular grid scoring system determines what angle has the most "interesting" solar activity; the angle with the brightest colors along specified points wins, and that activity rotates to feature the "coolest" (or dare we say "hottest") solar activity in the website header.

Additional Hot Stuff

To learn more cool (and hot) stuff about space and Space Foundation programs, check out the following: