Archive for January, 2011
Thanks to NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory mission, the Helioviewer server, hosted in the Solar Data Analysis Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland, USA, has acquired and made operational an additional 15TB of storage. This will allow us to maintain through the coming year, the same level of service of Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) and other images that we already provide through the Helioviewer.org and JHelioviewer browse clients. This new storage will allow us to keep all the images we already have, plus new images from the upcoming year, online and available for our users to browse as they please. As always, we welcome any comments on how we may improve our service, and we look forward to what the Sun will bring us in 2011!
We have put together a short slideshow introducing the major features of Helioviewer.org and uploaded it to SlideShare. If you want a quick overview of what all the different buttons and options are on Helioviewer.org, check it out. Afterwards if you want to get a more in-depth understanding of all of the features offered by Helioviewer, try reading the Helioviewer User Guide.
Users now have the ability to upload any Helioviewer.org produced videos directly from Helioviewer.org to YouTube. Users can also share these uploaded videos directly with other users of Helioviewer.org. If you take a look at the Helioviewer.org website you will notice a new video section on the bottom-right corner of the page. All of the videos that are linked to there were created by users on Helioviewer.org and uploaded to YouTube.
Figure 1: Recently uploaded videos appear on the right
For a while now users have had to option to download any of the videos they create, but because some videos can be quite large (e.g. 50Mb) this isn’t always convenient when you want to share the video with someone else. This is where YouTube steps in. After your video has been created, you can download it to your local computer and also upload it to YouTube from Helioviewer.org. This makes it easy for users to quickly share their creations in a way that people are already familiar with. Furthermore, by checking the “Share my video with other Helioviewer.org users” box in the upload form, your video will show up in the “Recent Uploads” section at the bottom-right corner of the screen. It may take a little while before your video shows up (this is due to the way YouTube indexes uploaded videos and may take up to a couple hours on a busy day) on the website so if it doesn’t seem to be showing up, don’t despair! Check back later and it should be there.
Figure 2: Video player dialog showing the new YouTube upload button
To upload your own video to YouTube, begin by creating a video using the “video” button at the top-right corner of the screen. Once your video has finished processing and Helioviewer.org has notified you that your video is ready to be viewed, click the link provided to show your video in the in-browser player. At the bottom of the player you’ll see two buttons: a download button (which downloads a high-quality version of the video you are viewing) and an upload button with a YouTube icon next to it. Click the upload button. If this is the first time you are uploading a video (or if you have either closed your browser or waited more than 24 hours since your last upload) you will need to authorize Helioviewer.org to upload videos on your behalf. To do this, you will need to sign in to your Google/YouTube account, and then click the “Authorize” button. Afterwards you will be redirected to a simple form where you can choose a title, tags, and description for the video, and also specify whether or not you want your video to appear on Helioviewer.org. When you are finished filling out the form, hit submit and you are done! The video should show up on your YouTube account within a couple minutes, and if you chose to share your video on Helioviewer.org, it should show up there a little later.
This is a really new feature and you will probably see it change some over time as we continue to refine the interface and make it easier to work with. If you have any suggestions though, please let us know! We want to make a tool that is both easy and fun to use.
Around 2010/10/29-30 the SOHO spacecraft changed flight operations so it is no longer constantly aligned with the rotation axis of the Sun. SOHO now points to ecliptic north, which makes an approximate seven degree angle with the equator of the Sun. SOHO will still flip 180 degrees in order to maintain optimal communication with the Earth, but the rotation will now flip the spacecraft relative to ecliptic north. The raw image data that SOHO takes therefore shows the new orientation. At the Helioviewer Project, we rotate the data so that solar north is towards the top of your screen and the rotation axis of the Sun is vertical (i.e., parallel to the left and right hand side of a rectangular screen). Our science data processing software – JP2Gen – now takes account of the new rotation of SOHO and rotates SOHO science data appropriately. This is done to maintain homogeneity with the existing images we already provide, and makes it easy to compare images from multiple telescopes.
You may have noticed that we didn’t have any new AIA images, from about 2010/12/19. This was due to an interruption in the creation of the science-quality files we use to create the images available via the Helioviewer Project. The situation has been rectified, and we are currently filling in missing data between now and when the interruption began (approximately 2010/12/19 04:00 UT). We are filling in the missing data at the approximate rate of 1.5 – 2 days worth of AIA images per 24 hours.