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NASA solar probe rockets toward rendezvous with Sun

Michael Cooney | Feb. 18, 2010
The US$808 million spacecraft will ultimately study the Sun and send back what NASA called a prodigious rush of pictures about sunspots, solar flares and a variety of other never-before-seen solar events.

The orbit will also let high resolution images be recorded every three quarters of a second, producing enough data to fill a single CD every 36 seconds, NASA said. The SDO will providing in-depth information about the Sun's magnetic fields and space weather generated by solar flares and violent eruptions from the Sun's atmosphere known as Coronal Mass Ejections.

Such powerful ejections are of particular interest because they can carry a billion tons of solar material into space at over a million kilometers per hour. Such events can expose astronauts to deadly particle doses, can disable satellites, cause power grid failures on Earth and disrupt communications.


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