NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory was only designed to fly for five years, but it has celebrated six years of 24/7 solar observation on February 11th. The ultraHD video below the fold is a timelapse that stitches together images the spacecraft captured during that sixth year, from January 1st, 2015 to January 28th, 2016. Since each frame represents two hours and the photos were taken in extreme ultraviolet range, you can clearly see the sun’s corona dancing and undulating throughout the video.
Extreme ultraviolet is commonly used in solar imaging. Photos taken in that wavelength shows parts of the corona — the aura of plasma that surrounds the sun — burning at around 1,079,540 degrees F. As Paris Hilton used to say: that’s hot. Besides the undulating plasma, you might also notice that the sun gets bigger and smaller ever so slightly in the video. That’s because SDO takes images from various distances as it orbits the Earth.
NASA sent out SDO to monitor the sun in order to better understand its electromagnetic system and solar phenomena like flares and coronal mass ejections. CMEs, in particular, can cause geomagnetic storms that can disable satellites and even power grids.