Back in January, the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) instrument aboard NOAA’s next generation GOES-16 weather satellite broadcasted photos of the Earth and moon. It showed a large coronal hole in the sun’s southern hemisphere. And now, GOES-16 has captured its first solar images, which NOAA has stitched together to make a video.
Coronal holes are parts of the solar surface where corona of the sun seems darker than usual. According to NASA, the sun’s 11-year cycle is currently approaching solar minimum. In this stage of time, the powerful solar flares become rare and coronal holes become the primary source of solar phenomena. This specific one caused aurora to appear in the Polar Regions. GOES-16, which NASA launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida as GOES-R, was designed to observe all sorts of solar activity, including geometric storms and solar flares. Currently, it’s monitoring the Earth from an equatorial view approximately 22,300 miles above the surface of the planet.
SUVI monitors the sun in six different EUV channels (as shown in the image above), so the spacecraft’s abilities rely on it. From these channels, the instrument gets a way to calculate emission measurements and coronal plasma temperatures important for space weather forecasting. The satellite is expected to send us early warnings of hazardous solar activities, which are able to pose a danger to satellite, telecom companies, as well as power grids.