In Brief

NASA Sun-Watching Spacecraft Bounces Back From Glitch

SDO View of the Sun, Aug. 11, 2016
View of the sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Aug. 11, 2016, shortly after its recovery from a hiccup that knocked its science instruments offline briefly. (Image credit: NASA/SDO)

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft has recovered fully from a hiccup it suffered while observing an eclipse last week, agency officials said.

SDO didn't go back into "science mode" after watching the moon pass in front of the sun on Aug. 2. (This eclipse was visible from the spacecraft's vantage point in Earth orbit, but not to observers on the ground.)

Two of the probe's three science instruments — the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager and the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment — had come back online by Aug. 4. And NASA announced yesterday (Aug. 10) that the third, known as the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, was back in action as well.

"All three of SDO’s instruments are now online and sending science data back to Earth," agency officials wrote in an update yesterday.

The $800 million SDO mission launched in February 2010 and has been capturing amazing, high-resolution images of the sun ever since. The spacecraft's observations are helping scientists better understand what drives variation in solar activity, mission team members have said.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.