How intense will the next solar cycle be? Can we predict when a violent solar storm will blast Earth with energetic particles? Could a prolonged period of inactivity on the sun plunge Earth into a prolonged winter? These are a few of the questions that scientists anticipate the new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will help to answer.
“The sun is a magnetic variable star that fluctuates on time scales ranging from a fraction of a second to billions of years,” says Madhulika Guhathakurta, lead program scientist for Living With a Star at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. “SDO will show us how variable the sun really is and will reveal the underlying physics of solar variability.”
Where Do Magnetic Fields Come From?