Welcome to “On This Day … in Space!” where we peer back in our archives to find historic moments in spaceflight and astronomy, hosted by Space.com’s Hanneke Weitering.
On Feb. 11, 2010, NASA launched a spacecraft to study the inner workings of the sun. The new Solar Dynamics Observatory was made to take the most detailed and comprehensive measurements of the sun ever.
The satellite orbits Earth, but its orbit allows it to look at the sun continuously. It looks for activity like sunspots and solar flares, but it also studies the sun’s magnetic field. By better understanding the sun’s crazy and warped magnetic fields, scientists hope to better predict space weather events that spew harmful radiation toward Earth.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory launched just in time to see the sun during the peak of its 11-year solar cycle.