News / Science & Technology

NASA Unveils New Sun Images

These two images show a section of the sun as seen by NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, on the right and NASA's SDO on the left.
These two images show a section of the sun as seen by NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, on the right and NASA's SDO on the left.
TEXT SIZE - +
Suzanne Presto
NASA's new solar observatory is already giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse of the sun.  The U.S. space agency has released the first images from the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, known as IRIS, which was launched one month ago.
 
The images show an active, dynamic region.  NASA describes spots that quickly brighten and dim, and thread-like towers of energy that reveal major temperature differences in the sun's lower atmosphere. 
 
The IRIS satellite looks at the little-understood, lowest layers of the sun's atmosphere. 
 
Solving solar mysteries 
 
Still image from the first IRIS movie, 21 hours after opening the door.Still image from the first IRIS movie, 21 hours after opening the door.
x
Still image from the first IRIS movie, 21 hours after opening the door.
Still image from the first IRIS movie, 21 hours after opening the door.
John Grunsfeld, of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, described the moment on July 17 when the solar observatory's telescope caught its first glimpse of the sun. 
 
"When the aperture door opened, it was truly a grand opening of a new era of solar physics," he told reporters.  
 
Grunsfeld described the sun's interface region as "a crucial link in that story of unraveling the mysteries of the sun."  
 
Among those mysteries is just how the sun's upper atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface, even though it's farther from the sun's heat-generating core.  IRIS observes the way solar material gathers energy and heats up as it rises through the sun's lower atmosphere.
 
Computer simulations vs. IRIS images
 
Bart DePontieu, an IRIS researcher based at Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center in California, says scientists have compared computer simulations and the data they've collected from IRIS.  
 
"We've been struck by the similarities with what IRIS sees, but we also already know that there are differences that are puzzling us," he said.  "And, actually, that's where we get excited because it's these discrepancies that tell us that we're missing something in our understanding."  
 
DePontieu says scientists hope to observe large explosions on the sun that can disrupt technology here on Earth, as well as the less dramatic solar moments that affect near-Earth space and our climate.
 
The $181 million IRIS mission is set to last two years, but scientists say the solar explorer could function much longer.   
 

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid