Imagery provided courtesy of NASA and ESA.
LASCO images have been used by the SWPC forecast office to characterize the solar corona heating and transient events, including CME's, and to see the effects of the corona on the solar wind. More recently, the LASCO images are vital to the WSA-Enlil model that became operational in October of 2011. WSA-Enlil has become an important tool for forecasting the impact of Coronal Mass Ejections and the effects of the Solar Wind on the Earth.
The Large Angle and Spectrometric COronagraph (LASCO) instrument is one of 11 instruments included on the joint NASA/ESA SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft. SOHO was launched on 2 December 1995 at 0808 UT (0308 EST) from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. The LASCO instrument is a set of three coronagraphs that image the solar corona from 1.1 to 32 solar radii. It is convenient to measure distances in terms of solar radii. One solar radius is about 700,000 km, 420,000 miles or 16 arc minutes. A coronagraph is a telescope that is designed to block light coming from the solar disk, in order to see the extremely faint emission from the region around the sun, called the corona.
The LASCO coronographs are part of the SOHO suite of instruments that were launched in December of 1995. SWPC has made use of the coronograph images in their forecast office since they have been available, and more recently in the WSA-Enlil model.
Realtime images from the LASCO coronographs are available at: http://lasco-www.nrl.navy.mil/index.php?p=content/realtime Archived images are available at: http://lasco-www.nrl.navy.mil/index.php?p=content/database