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How to Safely Stare at the Sun: SOHO, SDO and GOES-R Instruments

17 Sep 2020, 09:23 UTC
How to Safely Stare at the Sun: SOHO, SDO and GOES-R Instruments
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The sun over the years. (Credit: SOHO/NASA/ESA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — As an agency, NOAA’s science isn’t just limited to Earth and its atmosphere. NOAA’s reach goes from the surface of the Sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them. So, what sort of instruments help scientists detect what’s going on in the Sun in the first place?

Background on Human Observations

Humans have studied the Sun with telescopes for 400 years, but our understanding of our nearest star has improved dramatically since the 1960s, which began the era of space-based technology and observations of the Sun.

While there have been more than 40 missions since 1960, that have observed or will observe conditions on the Sun—such as the Parker Solar Probe or DSCOVR—there are three key missions that have helped scientists pinpoint the highs and lows of the Sun’s activity, which follows an 11-year cycle that includes the solar minimum— the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R Series (GOES-R).

Currently, the science behind studying the Sun focuses on something called the solar wind, ...

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