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Shortly after AIA began transmitting on March 30, scientists observed a large eruptive prominence on the sun’s edge, followed by a filament eruption a third of the way across the star’s disk from the eruption.
“Even small events restructure large regions of the solar surface,” says Lockheed Martin’s Title. “It’s been possible to recognize the size of these regions because of the combination of spatial, temporal and area coverage provided by AIA.”
AIA has observed numerous very small flares that generate magnetic instabilities and waves with clearly observed effects over a substantial fraction of the solar surface. The instrument captures full-disk images in eight different temperature bands that span 10,000 to 36 million degrees Fahrenheit, allowing scientists to observe entire events that are difficult to see by looking in a single temperature band, at a slower rate or over a more limited field of view.
Data is delivered to the science investigating teams at the astonishing rate of 1.5 terabytes each day. “That’s 55 megabits per second for HMI, 67 for AIA and 7 for EVE,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “That’s all compressed data. Images are created as individual files from telemetry and then into the data base. We don’t stream videos, but we combined [the images] into videos on the ground.”
He adds that the project has a planned lifetime of 5 years. “There are no consumables on board except propellant, and estimates are that we have 900 years of propellant.”