The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) was launched in December 1995 by an Atlas Centaur rocket and became operational in March 1996.
SOHO weighs about two tons and with its solar panels extended stands about 25 feet across.
The spacecraft has 12 scientific instruments collecting information about sunspots, the corona, solar flares and prominences, and vibrations deep in the Sun's interior.
Photos courtesy of SOHO consortium, SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.
Huge Sunspot Group
"Active region 9393 as seen by MDI hosted the largest sunspot group observed so far during the current solar cycle.
On 30 March 2001, the sunspot area within the group spanned an area more than 13 times the entire surface of the Earth!
It was the source of numerous flares and coronal mass ejections, including the largest flare recorded in 25 years on 2 April 2001. Caused by intense magnetic fields emerging from the interior, a sunspot appears to be dark only when contrasted against the rest of the solar surface, because it is slightly cooler than the unmarked regions."
"In a sequence from four instruments this blast of material from the sun called a Coronal Mass Ejection(CME), part of a series of 5 CMEs in late November 2000, shows its progress from a sunspot group (MDI), to the flash of a flare (EIT 195Ň), to a blasting CME seen 14 hours later (LASCO C2), and to a large expanding CME cloud over three hours later."
The arrow shows the sunspot in the affected region.
The different colors are to show the different temperatures and wavelengths each instrument studies.
The disk in the lower images is part of the instrument and blocks out the body of the sun.
"This composite image presents the three most visible elements of space weather: a storm from the Sun, aurora as seen from space, and aurora as seen from the Earth. The solar storm is a corona mass ejection (CME) composite from EIT 304Ň superimposed on a LASCO C2 image, both from SOHO. The middle image from Polarís VIS imager shows charged particles as they spread down across the U.S. during a large solar storm event on July 14, 2000. Lastly, Jan Curtis took this image of an aurora display in Alaska, the visible evidence of space weather that we see here on Earth."
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