04/12/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

SDO LAUNCHES: NASA Installs Advanced Solar Dynamics Observatory

UPDATE: The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launch was successfully completed.

The Associated Press reports:

The most advanced solar observatory ever built rocketed into space Thursday on a five-year quest to shed light on Earth's star. [...] At a cost of $856 million, the Solar Dynamics Observatory is the first mission in NASA's Living with a Star program. Scientists want to better understand the violent activity on the sun that influences life on Earth. This so-called space weather can disrupt communications, knock out power and disable satellites, and endanger astronauts in orbit.

Read more here.

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The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launch was delayed another 24 hours Wednesday, this time due to high winds, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

NASA hoped the SDO launch would take place today in Cape Canaveral, Florida, but now seek to launch between 10:23-11:23 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday. The mission has already been delayed 24 hours once before.

SDO's official Web site describes the Solar Dynamics Observatory as follows:

SDO is designed to help us understand the Sun's influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously.

More from the Associated Press:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Gusty wind has forced NASA to delay the launch of its newest solar observatory.

An unmanned Atlas V rocket was supposed to blast off from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning with the Solar Dynamics Observatory. NASA put off the launch for an hour, hoping the wind would ease. But the rocket's systems sensed a wind overload and shut everything down, with just three minutes and 59 seconds left in the countdown.

NASA says it will try again Thursday to send up the observatory. It's the most advanced probe ever built to study the sun. Scientists want to better understand the violent solar activity that causes communication and power disruptions on Earth.


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