Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
21 Sep 2009



SDO is a NASA mission to observe solar activity and space weather. It studies the Sun's magnetic field and how this magnetic energy propels away from the sun as solar wind, energetic particles and other space weather phenomena.


​​​The Solar Dynamics Observatory

Credit: NASA

RAL Space Involvement
In collaboration with Lockheed Martin, the Imaging Systems Division built camera electronics boxes (CEBs) for two of SDO's three remote sensing instruments: the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), led from the Lockheed Martin Solar Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), led from Stanford University. The overall programme was managed by Lockheed Martin with CCD sensors from e2v technologies Ltd., Chelmsford, UK, and the CCD camera electronics from the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL).

The custom-designed CCD is a 4k x 4k pixel sensor of 12µm pixel pitch and is currently the largest device to have ever flown. Front-illuminated sensors were manufactured for the visible light imaging HMI instrument whilst a back-illuminated variant without anti-reflection coating was supplied for the four AIA telescopes to ensure optimal sensitivity at the extreme ultra-violet wavelengths required for the coronal imaging. The camera electronics generates all of the signals and voltages needed to drive the CCDs and to digitise the analogue video signal. The design uses a faster version of the video processing ASIC first used in the STEREO/SECCHI instruments.

Solar Physics

Main Objectives
To help us understand the Sun's influence on Earth and Near-Earth space.

Launch Date
11th February 2010 ​​

Further project information 
RAL Space - Solar Dynamics Observatory
NASA website (link opens in a new window)

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For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries