First Solar Images From NOAA's GOES-16 Satellite Released

Posted: Feb 28 2017, 10:02am CST | by , Updated: Feb 28 2017, 10:13am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
First Solar Images from NOAA GOES-16 Satellite Released
These images of the sun were captured at the same time on January 29, 2017 by the six channels on the SUVI instrument on board GOES-16. Credit: NOAA

NOAA's new satellite successfully captures a large coronal hole on the surface of the sun

The very first images of the sun from NOAA’s new satellite have been released and they are incredible.

New images provide detailed look at the active regions of sun’s surface, including a large coronal hole. Coronal holes are darker and colder areas on sun’s corona - the outer atmosphere of the sun and are caused by the exposure of solar magnetic field to interplanetary space.

Despite years of observations, Sun is still a mystery to scientists. NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite will help researchers better understand the solar activity and how it functions, which will enable them to better predict about coronal mass ejections, high-speed solar wind and high energy particles emitted from the sun’s surface. This is important because solar activity affects the life on Earth as well as the life of astronauts and spacecrafts travelling into the space.

Currently, solar activity cycle is approaching towards solar minimum which is the least active period in the 11 year solar cycle of the sun. During this time, solar flare activity diminishes and often does not occur for days. So, coronal holes become the primary space weather phenomena.

GOES-16 satellite monitors the sun in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength range by using SUVI telescope. SUVI or Solar Ultraviolet Imager captures full disk solar images around the clock and picks fluctuations in solar activity in a fraction of second.

“Data from SUVI will provide an estimation of coronal plasma temperatures and emission measurements which are important to space weather forecasting. SUVI is essential to understanding active areas on the sun, solar flares and eruptions that may lead to coronal mass ejections which may impact Earth. SUVI will allow the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center to provide early space weather warnings to electric power companies, telecommunication providers and satellite operators.” NASA website said.

GOES-16 satellite was launched into the in November 19, 2016 and is situated in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. The next generation satellite can provide a full image of Earth every 15 minutes and scans it faster than any NOAA’s current GOES satellite. It aims to help researchers and weather forecast networks to provide more accurate and timely forecasts and warnings.

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