On February 11, 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Into space, taking its course straight through an atmospheric optical phenomenon known as a Sun dog. In the video above, you can hear observers amazed when the rainbow-colored sun disappears as the spacecraft passes through this part of the atmosphere. It was an auspicious start to a spacecraft that helped make us understand our local star. The launch also shed light on a new form of ice aura and taught those who love and study sky optics new insights into how shock waves interact with clouds.
The sun is a bright, rainbow-colored spot in the sky, formed by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals in the form of a plate drifting from the sky like leaves fluttering from trees. Les Cowley from the site Atmospheric Optics Explain what is happening in the video at Post at Science @ NASA:
When the missile penetrated the beam, shock waves spread through the cloud and destroyed the alignment of the ice crystals. This put out the sun.
In the video, take a closer look at the illuminated plume of white light that appears next to the Atlas V rocket that launched the SDO 2011 launch. Although Cowley and other sky optometrists understood why the sun was vanishing, they did not understand the events that followed, namely the column the White light. Cowley said:
A luminous column of white light appeared next to Atlas V and followed the rocket to the sky. We’ve never seen anything like it.
Cowley and co-worker Robert Greenler were initially unable to interpret this column of light. Then they realized that the plate-shaped ice crystals were orchestrated by the shock wave from F. Cowley’s Atlas explained:
The crystals are inclined between 8 and 12 degrees. Then they rotate so that the main crystal axis describes a conical motion. Game tops and gyroscopes do that. Earth does this once every 26,000 years. Movement is neat and precise.
By the way, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been monitoring the sun for 11 years. It is one of the many observatories that watch our sun, which is part of NASA Live with a star a program. The video below highlights some of SDO’s achievements over the past decade.
Conclusion: On February 11, 2010, a solar observatory launched into space tore apart a solar model and created a new icy halo that surprised scientists.