100 Million Images Of The Sun
The 100 millionth image of the sun captured by the AIA instrument. NASA/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has accomplished quite the milestone. The space telescope's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument snapped its 100 millionth photo Monday at 12:49 p.m. EST. The instrument captures images of the sun, in 10 different wavelengths, every 12 seconds, which adds up to 57,600 photos each day.

SDO was launched on Feb. 11, 2010, atop an Atlas V-401 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft is equipped with three instruments that observe the sun in different spectrums. The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) observes the sun's magnetic field across the photosphere, the surface of the sun, and the "billions of tiny ripples" on its surface. The AIA is SDO's workhorse instrument and captures the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere layer. The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) observes extreme ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun, which helps scientists understand why levels of EUV light change. These instruments combine to send 1.5 terabytes of data each day, according to NASA.

X-Class Solar Flare
An X-class solar flare captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Feb. 24, 2014. NASA/SDO

Most people may be familiar with images collected by AIA, since the instrument captures solar flares and coronal mass ejections, a blast of plasma that can cause radio blackouts and geomagnetic storms on Earth. Most recently, on Jan. 13, AIA captured the first significant solar flare of 2015. The M-class event was not the most powerful type of flare -- X-class flares are 10 times more powerful -- but it did cause a minor radio blackout that lasted a few minutes on the sunlit side of the Earth.

"If I traveled 100 million miles I could have gone to the sun and been 7 million miles on my way home by now," Dean Pesnell, SDO project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, wrote in a blog post discussing the milestone. "One hundred million seconds ago was Nov. 19, 2011, a day without great significance in my calendar. One hundred million people lived in the USA in 1914,"

Solar Flare 2014
An X-class solar flare observed on Oct. 25, 2014. NASA/SDO

NASA asked the SDO scientists, Pesnell and Karel Schrijiver, to pick some of their favorite images, which you can find below.

Sun Mosiac
NASA created this mosaic of AIA's 100-millionth image from past images captured by the instrument. NASA/SDO/Mosaic created with AndreaMosaic
Solar Eruption
AIA captured a solar eruption on June 7, 2011. "Scientists concluded that this event on the sun was a small-scale version of what happens as stars form and collect gases via gravity," NASA said. NASA/SDO
Coronal Mass Ejection
The sun unleashed a solar flare and AIA captured the associated coronal mass ejection. The scientists nicknamed this type of event a "trebuchet prominence," after the Medieval catapult. NASA/SDO