if you’ve ever been told not to stare at the sun, now’s the time to ignore that advice. Earlier today, NASA released a 30-minute video of the sun in stunning 4K quality. The clip was generated using images obtained from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite whose sole mission is to study the sun 24/7. The resulting video of Earth’s closest star shows the celestial body at a level of detail that will blow your mind.
Launched in February 2010, the SDO was designed to capture images of the sun once every 12 seconds using two imaging instruments: the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI). It can record the sun at ten different wavelengths. Each wavelength is assigned a different color and represents a different temperature of solar material covering everything from the solar surface to the sun’s corona. NASA hopes the observations from the SDO will lead to a better understanding of the solar dynamics that affect the Earth’s environment.
Unlike other satellites, which typically use a recording system to save data until it can synced with a ground station, the SDO collects far too much data to be stored on the satellite in space. The recorded data is so abundant that the SDO could fill a full CD every 36 seconds. As a result, the SDO is placed into a geosynchronous orbit a, allowing it to send solar data continuously to a dedicated ground station that is always connected to the satellite.
This high-definition imaging data was later compiled by a team of media specialists who worked more than 300 hours to create the 30-minute presentation that shows solar activity at all ten recorded wavelengths. NASA posted the ultra-high definition video (4K) on its YouTube channel along with a playlist of songs from musician Lars Leonhard, which provides the background music for the video.