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Posts Tagged ‘sdo’

Our Presto-Chango Multiwavelength Sun

December 9th, 2011 Comments off

multi-sun_580

Steele Hill, NASA Goddard’s salesman of all things solar, just posted his latest weekly release of imagery, courtesy of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Steele creates the still images and video snippets for use in science museums and other public places. Here is his descriptive text for the image and video in this post.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s images of this Sun (Dec. 7, 2011) taken at almost the same time in several wavelengths at different temperatures and layers of the Sun. In addition, we superimposed an illustration of the Sun’s magnetic field lines to the view. We start off looking at the 6,000 degrees C. photosphere that shows the various sunspots on the “surface” of the Sun. Then, we transition into the region between the chromosphere and the corona, at about 1 million degrees C. where, in extreme UV light, the active regions appear lighter. We phase in a composite of three different wavelengths showing temperatures up to 2 million degrees C. To top it off, we overlay a science-based estimation of the complex magnetic field lines (partly made visible in the first UV image) extending from and connecting the active regions before going back to the sunspot image. 
Who says the Sun is boring?



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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



Our loopy sun (x3)

October 31st, 2011 Comments off

trifecta_sun_600
From Steele Hill, solar image media maven of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, comes this trifecta of a video from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows three “active regions” on the sun, where charged solar material (plasma) is flowing along vast magnetic loops on the sun’s surface. Several Earths could fit under those loops — amazing, ja? The video version is at the end of this post.

Here is Steele’s text, which is provided weekly to museums and science centers, along with the images and video:

Three active regions lined up vertically and each of the loop structures above them twisted differently (Oct. 15 – 17, 2011) when viewed in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The high arching loops of the top active region seemed to lean to the north; the one beneath it clearly coiled to the south; at the bottom one spread upright and to the left and right as well. The loops are tracing particles spiraling along magnetic field lines that have emerged from underneath the Sun’s surface. While the movie shows that the loops shifted and changed over 2.5 days, the basic structure of all three remained very much the same. It is not common to see active regions so neatly aligned atop one another.




How it works: Building the Helioviewer “back end” with JPEG2000

June 16th, 2011 Comments off

Post 1 of 5: Explore the sun on your desktop with Helioviewer
Post 2 of 5: Getting Started with Helioviewer.org
Post 3 of 5: Explore the sun in depth with JHelioviewer
Post 4 of 5: How it works: building the Helioviewer “back end” with JPEG2000


New interactive visualization tools developed by the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Helioviewer Project allow scientists and the general public to explore images captured by solar observing spacecraft. Previous posts explained the origins and aims of the Helioviewer Project, and the basics of a Web-based app called Helioviewer.org. This post looks at the behind-the-scenes technology that makes Helioviewer possible.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory captures hi-def images of the sun and beams them down to Earth at a rate of one every few seconds.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory beams data to Earth at a rate of 150 Mb per second.


The Helioviewer.org Web app and the JHelioviewer software are the on-screen interfaces that users see. But there is also a critical data-processing “back end” that required just as much effort to develop. The challenge was this: How do you acquire and manipulate solar images quickly enough so that the process is truly “real time,” without long waiting times for downloads and glacial refresh rates on the image view every time you make a change, like zooming in on a feature of interest?

This is particularly challenging when working with high-resolution images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. SDO sends down images that are 4,000 by 4,000 pixels, approximately the same number of pixels as in a 13 by 13 inch photographic print.

Google Maps and Google Earth overcame this issue by “tiling” large images into a checkerboard of smaller segments that could be quickly assembled into an image at the scale a user requested.

A Google Maps for the sun
The prototype of Helioviewer took this approach, too, following Google’s lead. “Google Maps was the original inspiration for it,” Helioviewer Project co-founder Jack Ireland says.

In the prototype of Helioviewer.org, each stage of a zoom-in required a complete set of tiles. The system retrieved the tiles it needed to build the view requested by the user with every click of the mouse. The trouble is, as you zoom in it requires an ever-increasing number of small tiles (numbering in the hundreds) to build the new image. Each tile is a separate file, and they all have to be labeled, stored, and pulled from storage and assembled when needed.

Then Helioviewer met JPEG2000, a standard for compressing images to make them extremely small while maintaining very good image quality. Also, JPEG2000 can extract sub-regions of the compressed image file without having to open the whole file.

In other words, the system generates only the part of the image you really want to see. If you have ever downloaded or extracted a very large compressed image file, you understand the time saving that JPEG2000 offers.

“One thing that changed early on that made a huge difference and made all this really possible is that we use this JPEG2000 technology,” Helioviewer Project co-founder Keith Hughitt explains. “Instead of generating all the possible tiles for every single image, we wait until the user asks for a tile and generate it right then, and only generate the ones we need. We were able to develop a way to do that quickly enough that you can do it right on the Web page.”

Data pipeline from Palo Alto
Lockheed Martin’s Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, based  in Palo Alto, California, that built the Atmospheric Imaging Instrument aboard SDO, uses JPEG2000 to compress every third new SDO image (i.e. one every few seconds) and then sends them through a data pipeline to Goddard. The image can be available on Helioviewer’s server at Goddard in as little as 20 minutes.

The system needs to store this one compressed master file, not hundreds of tiles. That one image file — or a portion of it — can be quickly decompressed and displayed at the resolution needed.

For example, as you click the little “plus sign” icon on Helioviewer to zoom in on a flare on the surface of the sun, the back end of the system decompresses the same file multiple times at increasing resolution — like a telephoto lens capturing an image at ever higher magnification — and displays it on your computer screen.

This “on the fly” manipulation also applies to time-lapse videos made with JHelioviewer. “JHelioviewer tells the server which portion of the images it is interested in, and the video-stream is updated in real time so that only those bits are transmitted back to JHelioviewer,” Hughitt explains. “The result is a sort of ‘dynamic’ movie stream that you can create, and then adjust as you are playing it.”

This means that as the video plays, you can zoom, pan, sharpen, brighten, or follow a specific feature across the sun. If you choose to download the video, the server renders the final product at whatever settings you choose.

If not for JPEG2000, you would need to download an entirely new version of the video – amounting to gigabytes of data – every time you made a change.  Another way of saying this is “the Web back in the 1990s.”



LEARN MORE

Helioviewer.org (Web app)

A collection of video highlights from 2011 (so far) created by Helioviewer.org users.

See a Helioviewer.org video made by “citizen scientist” LudzikLegoTechnics on YouTube.

The Helioviewer Project Wiki

JHelioviewer (downloadable software)

Read a Web feature about JHelioviewer and its capabilities

The JHelioviewer online handbook

JHelioviewer video tutorial on YouTube HD

ESA Web feature about JHelioviewer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


Explore the sun in depth with JHelioviewer

June 15th, 2011 Comments off

Post 1 of 5: Explore the sun on your desktop with Helioviewer
Post 2 of 5: Getting Started with Helioviewer.org
Post 3 of 5: Explore the sun in depth with JHelioviewer]

New interactive visualization tools developed by the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Helioviewer Project allow scientists and the general public to explore images captured by solar observing spacecraft. Previous posts explained the origins and aims of the Helioviewer Project, and the basics of a Web-based app called Helioviewer.org. This post takes a closer look at a downloadable software application JHelioviewer.

JHViewer_600

The Web app Helioviewer.org allows you to dip your toes into the water of solar image visualization. JHelioviewer, a piece of software you install on your computer, is a dive into the deep end. It gives you powerful additional tools to create vivid images and time-lapse videos.

When you install and start JHelioviewer, it displays a time-lapse video of the most recent 24-hour set of images available from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) at 171 Angstroms. (Read this previous post to learn more about the AIA 171 Angstrom channel on SDO.)

Here are the basic menus along the left of the JHelioviewer desktop. Guidance is also available on the JHelioviewer Wiki Handbook.

SCREEN SHOT OF overview menu areaOverview
In the Overview menu area (top left), use the yellow frame with the little “Bull’s eye” to target the area of the image you want to work with. If you have a thumb wheel on your mouse, use it to expand or contract the size of the frame. Or use the Zoom in and Zoom out buttons on the top navigation bar.

One of the coolest tools in JHelioviewer is Feature tracking. Center the yellow Bull’s eye on a feature and click the Track icon on the top-navigation bar. When you make a time-lapse video, it will hold the targeted feature steady as the rest of the sun moves around it! The software compensates for the rotation of the sun.

This can be especially dramatic if you zoom in close to a feature, like a tangle of magnetic loops, and switch on Track. The feature stays right in the center of the viewer as you watch the magnetic loops dance.

movie-controls_250Movie Controls
With the More Options tab selected, you can adjust the per-second cadence of your video sequence. The higher the rate, the smoother the video.

Also, there are three play modes: play once and stop; loop forward; or play forward and then backward.

screen shot of layer menuLayers
These controls allow you to create sets of solar images to examine, alter, and render into videos. Clicking Add Layer brings up a panel for choosing the start and stop dates, the observatory, the instrument, and the time step between images. The time settings are in UTC (coordinated universal time), which is the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). UTC minus 5 hours gives you Eastern Standard Time.

If you, for example, want to make a video of the past day of solar activity, choose a 24-hour start and stop interval. Now you have to choose the Time Step. Once per hour will make a pretty jumpy video.

So, say you pick the other extreme — once per minute. Unfortunately, you can’t do it, because the system limits you to sets of no more than 1000 images at a time, and there are 1,440 minutes in a day. How about every 10 minutes? Set the Time Step to 2 minutes and you will get 144 images to cover the 24-hour period.

screen shot of adjustments menuAdjustments
The video you create initially may already look pretty good. But you can use the Adjustments tools to tweak the look of the video and highlight details. Sharpen compensates for fuzziness. Gamma brightens the image. And Contrast increases the differences between bright and dark areas.

Another cool feature: You can make these changes “on the fly,” as your video continues to play. You can also switch AIA instruments on the fly, and frame rate, too, to get the perfect video.

HEK Events
Turning on this feature adds a layer of labels drawn from the Heliophysics Events Knowledgebase. It labels flares, for example, with a special icon. Clicking on an icon makes a window pop up with detailed technical information about the event.

screen shot of HEK regions

HEK events

Cool stuff in JHelioviewer
You can create multiple layers and adjust the relative contribution of each using the Opacity control. Layers chosen from the same time period will play in synch.

Another cool feature: Notice in the Layers panel how you can watch the minutes, hours, days, etc. progress as the video plays. I made a 1-year video to browse for times of the year when the sun was especially active, then went back to those periods to grab still images.

For example, set the time to October 7, 2010, and make a video of that day. Do you see a big dark circle cross in front of the sun? That was the moon during a lunar transit.

JHelioviewer does not, like the Web app Helioviewer.org, allow you to instantly share your video to YouTube. But you can download it as an mp4 file (File>Export Movie), and post it manually on your blog, YouTube channel, or other sharing sites.

But watch out for the file size! My 1-year video at 12-hour time steps (627 SDO images) came in at a file size of 127 Mb. To generate a smaller output file, make the “frame size” smaller in the Export dialog settings.

Here is the video I made with JHelioviewer of a year in the life of our star, May 2010 to May 2011. You can do it, too.





LEARN MORE

Helioviewer.org (Web app)

A collection of video highlights from 2011 (so far) created by Helioviewer.org users.

See a Helioviewer.org video made by “citizen scientist” LudzikLegoTechnics on YouTube.

The Helioviewer Project Wiki

JHelioviewer (downloadable software)

Read a Web feature about JHelioviewer and its capabilities

The JHelioviewer online handbook

JHelioviewer video tutorial on YouTube HD

ESA Web feature about JHelioviewer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


Getting started with Helioviewer.org

June 14th, 2011 Comments off

Post 1 of 5: Explore the sun on your desktop with Helioviewer
Post 2 of 5: Getting Started with Helioviewer.org

New interactive visualization tools developed by the NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Helioviewer Project allow scientists and the general public to explore the growing body of high-definition images of the sun captured by solar observing spacecraft. A previous post explained the origin and aims of the Helioviewer Project. This post takes a closer look at a Web-based tool called Helioviewer.org.


screen shot of helioviewer.org desktop


When you first visit Helioviewer.org, you’ll see an orange ball. That’s the most recent image available of the sun, courtesy of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

The Time menu
image of time menuAt the top left of the image window, three drop-down menus allow you to choose the time and date at which you want to observe the sun, including latest, meaning “the most recent available.”

The time is given in UTC: coordinated universal time, also known as GMT, or Greenwich Mean Time. To convert to U.S. Eastern Standard Time, subtract 5 hours from UTC (and so on).

Time-step allows you to browse solar images in steps of 1 second to 1 year.

The Images menu
screen shot of images menuWhen you first visit Helioviewer.org, the Images menu setting will default to the most recent SDO image available from the spacecraft’s Atmospheric Imagining Assembly (AIA) instrument at a wavelength of 304 Angstroms.

Think of it as looking at the sun through a filter that blocks out everything except the wavelengths near 304 Angstroms. The AIA has 10 such “channels. This Wikipedia article about SDO includes a helpful table showing the different channels and what temperature of solar material they correspond to.

To be more specific, the 304 Angstrom view from SDO is the energy emitted by positively charged helium atoms (He+) at around 60,000-80,000 degrees. In SDO images, it is commonly displayed  in a rich orange color.

Click anywhere on the title bar for AIA 304. This expands your viewing options.

The Opacity slider is a fader control, allowing you to display from zero to 100 percent of the image.

Below that, drop-down menus allow you to choose the image source by observatory/spacecraft, instrument, detector, and measurement type.

So, for example, change the measurement type from AIA 304 to AIA 171. At 171 Angstroms, you see magnetic loop structures protruding from the solar surface.

The AIA 171 captures ultraviolet light from processes on the sun occurring at more than a half-million degrees (compared to AIA 304′s 60,000 degrees).

screen shot of images controlsMixing multiple images
The real magic of Helioviewer.org starts when you click Add at the top right of the image menu area. This creates a second (or third, or fourth…) image.

You can use these menus to seamlessly overlay and combine multiple images of the same solar image captured in different wavelengths by SOHO and SDO.

To do it, call up multiple images at different wavelengths and then use the Opacity sliders to meld the images together by altering their relative brightnesses.

The really cool thing is that Helioviewer.org (and JHelioviewer) allow you to visualize a process happening on the sun in different ways (by overlaying images from different instruments). Or you can explore the relationship between different processes happening at different times.

Making time-lapse videos
Click Movie at the top right of the image window to create a time-lapse video of the sun’s surface. The default setting will create a video covering 24 hours, centered on the current observation time.

Alternatively, you can click Settings above the image window to make a video with duration of 3 hours to 1 week.

screen shot of video start buttonUnder normal traffic conditions, it will take a minute or two to generate the video. But as more users call on this service, the wait times increase. In fact, in the days following the June 7 prominence eruption, the demand for video was so great that the Helioviewer Project had to literally erase the queue of requests as they stretched into days.

A pop up window will let you know when the video is ready. You will have the option of either downloading a copy or sharing it to YouTube.

The Recently shared window shows you a video recently uploaded by someone to YouTube,

Other sharing features
The Link and Screenshot features also allow you to share or store images or combinations of images created using Helioviewer.org.

Tomorrow: Explore solar images and video in depth with JHelioviewer.


LEARN MORE

Helioviewer.org (Web app)

A collection of video highlights from 2011 (so far) created by Helioviewer.org users.

See a Helioviewer.org video made by “citizen scientist” LudzikLegoTechnics on YouTube.

The Helioviewer Project Wiki:

JHelioviewer (downloadable software)

Read a Web feature about JHelioviewer and its capabilities

The JHelioviewer online handbook

JHelioviewer video tutorial on YouTube HD

ESA Web feature about JHelioviewer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


SDO first-light anniversary webtastic mashup: Here (again!) are all the images and videos in one place

April 21st, 2011 4 comments

sdo image mosaic

Here is a one-stop-shopping collection of our efforts this week to celebrate the one-year “first light” anniversary of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Check out this “best of” compilation of video stunners from SDO’s first year at work and vote for your favorite. Voting is open until May 5. Pick the best SDO video of the year




They’re talking about us in Wales! At a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers announced some new insights into what unleashed the powerful 2011 “Valentine’s Day” solar flare — with help from SDO.




Feast your eyes on this Flickr slideshow of SDO beauty shots.


flickr_image_475

And while you’re at it, see the past year of Solar Dynamics Observatory “pick of the week” beauty shots.




Did you miss the “Ask SDO” Twitter Q&A event on Tuesday? No problem: Experience the whole thing here on a Storify feature created by Goddard science writer Liz Zubritsky.


storify_image_475

A year ago, NASA scientists gathered to announce the first crop of amazing SDO images to the world. But you can still watch the press conference.


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Last but not least, browse the original SDO first-light image releases a year ago on the Goddard SDO website.


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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


Cream of the crop: See the past year of Solar Dynamics Observatory “pick of the week” beauty shots and vote for the best video of the year

April 21st, 2011 Comments off


screen shot from pick of the week site

The website for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory here at Goddard has a really cool feature called Pick of the Week. Starting on May 21 last year, shortly after SDO saw first light, the curators of Pick of the Week have chosen an image to feature, whether for its scientific interest of sheer drama or beauty. Here is a slide show of the pick-of-the-week images from SDO’s first year.

Steele Hill, SOHO/STEREO/SDO Media Specialist here at Goddard, chooses the pick-of-the-week images, researches the science, writes the captions, and posts the content online. These images are often displayed at science centers and museums across the country.





AND DON”T FORGET to pick your favorite video for the SDO First Light Anniversary Video Contest. Choose from 10 different videos released over the past year.



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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


You gotta love this: new insights from SDO about what set off the record-breaking “Valentine’s Day” flare of 2011

April 20th, 2011 2 comments


valentine_flare_diagram

Here is the sun at 1.50am on 15th February 2011 using composite data of the Sun’s surface from two of SDO’s instruments. The cutout region shows (bottom right) the five rotating sunspots of the active region (AR 11158), and (top right) the bright release of light from the X class flare.

Back around February 14, you might have seen some images and movie clips from NASA about the massive “Valentine’s Day” solar flare. Today, researchers at the University of Central Lancashire are presenting new observations of that giant flare that they made using NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Their conclusion: the flare was spawned by interactions between five rotating sunspots, according to research presented today at the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.

A press release from the RAS explains it this way:

“Sunspots are features where magnetic field generated in the Sun’s interior pushes through the surface and into the atmosphere,” said Dr Brown. “Twisting the Sun’s magnetic field is like twisting an elastic band. At first you store energy in the elastic, but if you twist too much the elastic band snaps, releasing the stored energy. Similarly, rotating sunspots store energy in the Sun’s atmospheric magnetic field. If they twist too much, the magnetic field breaks releasing energy in a flash of light and heat which makes up the solar flare.”




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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

The never-ending parade of wow: Celebrating a year of amazing views from the NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

April 19th, 2011 Comments off
sdo image of magnetic filaments on the sun

Did someone say wow? SDO captured this portrait of magnetic filaments on the sun on May 18, 2010.

Practically every week, space and astronomy bloggers get on their bony knees and thank the satellite gods for Solar Dynamics Observatory — or maybe they should. After all, since April 21 last year, little SDO has reliably produced mind-blowing beauty shots of our restless star in HD. This blog has posted about a dozen updates based on SDO material, which you can now surf on a special SDO archive page on Geeked On Goddard.

Just for good measure, here is a “best of” collection of SDO beauty shots on the Goddard Flickr page. What’s your favorite?






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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


Magnetic Loops A’Crackling on the Sun

March 24th, 2011 Comments off


image of magnetic loops on sun

The latest amazing close-up shot of solar activity is available courtesy of Steele Hill and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Steele is a Goddard media specialist who sends out packages of sun images and videos that get displayed in hundreds of museums and science centers. In Steele’s own words. . .

“When a substantial active region rotated into view, it was a hot-bed of dynamic motion and loops (Mar. 21-22, 2011). As observed by Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in extreme ultraviolet light, the region’s powerful magnetic forces tangled, broke apart and reconnected with a vengeance, even popping off a few flares. Very tight close-ups such as this one had not been possible until the SDO began operations just a year ago.”



Here is an extreme close-up view of the active region and its loopy magnetic fields:





. . . and a larger view of the magnetic loopiness and the sun’s boiling surface.



_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.