AIA Delivers 100,000,000 Images of the Sun


The one hundred millionth image from AIA, shown in this false color image that illustrates the brightest loops on the sun, shows temperatures roughly in the middle of AIA's range. The telescope captures 10 different wavelengths, and this image shows emissions in the extreme ultraviolet/soft x-ray range, at approximately 1,500,000 Kelvin (approximately 2,700,000 Fahrenheit). 

Today we have one hundred million images to better understand our dynamic Sun and its magnetic storms, thanks to AIA.

Since May 1, 2010, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been keeping a close watch on the Sun from its orbit above the Earth. It sends two terabytes of data daily, taking one 16 megapixel image every 1.5 seconds.  Nearly five years after its launch, the powerful set of four parallel telescopes has delivered far more data than any previous space-based solar observatory.  

“AIA continues to deliver the data that we need to understand the physics powering the Sun's atmosphere, from which all of space weather originates,” said Dr. Karel Schrijver, a Lockheed Martin scientist and Principal Investigator for the mission. “It’s important to understand space weather because powerful solar storms can affect us on Earth. They disrupt—and can damage—satellites, affecting communications and banking, and these storms even cause electric power outages. AIA data helps us explain, and eventually to predict, the most volatile behavior on the sun.”


This image is a blend of three light wavelengths from AIA that includes the 100 millionth image.

AIA captures the power and energy of the Sun in 12 image channels (tuned to particular wavelengths, or colors, mostly in the extreme ultraviolet), Together, these images capture the glow from gases that range in the temperature from 10,000 K to 30,000,000 K  (~20,000 to 50,000,000 F).

These complex instruments are part of a family of science payloads developed by Lockheed Martin that examine the Sun, the Earth, and its connections. Whether studying the weather in space, or the weather over the Pacific, Lockheed Martin’s payloads are at the forefront of scientific discovery. Specifically related to the Sun, scientists and engineers at Lockheed Martin’s Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory have a long heritage supporting solar science and space weather research with revolutionary space-borne solar technologies, delivering data to the U.S., Europe, Japan, and beyond.

See NASA’s favorite moments in AIA’s 100 million-image history