How a Doomed Spacecraft Lived to Tell the Tale of the Sun

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What would you do if you were in charge of a billion-dollar satellite that was spinning out of control? In 1998, NASA and ESA engineers had to solve this exact problem. How did they avert this disaster?

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Tags: scishow, scishow space, Space, Science, hank green, astrophysics, astronomy, NASA, well, Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO, corona, solar cycles, solar weather, Pin of the Month, comets, How a Doomed Spacecraft Lived to Tell the Tale of the Sun

  1. Neph909

    there is no proof the sun is a giant nuclear furnace, and comets arent loose snowballs. if they were they’d never make it that close to the sun and survive. that is all.

  2. Austin Jenkins

    You’re not first

  3. Osmosis Jones

    If we figure out what dark energy is can build star ships. What do you think of the way of time travel that can only go back as time is moving forward . and over vast distances

  4. Synthetic Humanoid

    Did that person get fired for their BILLION dollar “oopsie”?

  5. jef du Pont

    So… Even the sun has corona…?

  6. Matthew Sedgwick


  7. Unknown

    Sun is for me a Miracle , Still Burning after all this Billions of Years or who knows how long

  8. Ken Gray

    Would have been better with a different reader.

  9. Joshua Spurgeon


  10. Locut0s

    Oh hey John you missed step 5.

    John: Oh crap… It’s not a big deal though right? I mean it’s one step out of like 400, no one will notice right?

    Boss calls John into office. So John, I’m sorry to tell you that due to resent events we are going to have to bill you for that mistake. Don’t worry though you still have your job.

    John: Ohh *wheew* you had me scared there, how much is the damage?

    Boss: Hmm let me see *flips through book*, ummm… $1 billion.

  11. Tyler Walter

    Woah the sun has Rona 😬 no wonder it’s been warming up 😂

  12. Demiaz


  13. ThatGuy

    The SOHO pin, including a basketball background

  14. g h

    You should do a video on the person that pressed that button. Are they still working for Goddard? What were they feeling when he or she realized that it was their fault.

  15. ediik

    f it… i’m the second…

  16. deathpony698

    you heard it right, corona came from the sun

  17. Tonto Y Quiennosabe

    I’m going to be the first human to stand on the surface of the sun.
    No, I won’t burn up, see I’m going at night.

  18. fiercemonkey1

    now we need to know more about the parker probe!

  19. Rock Howard

    Citizen scientists find the comets by perusing the automatically uploaded pictures. It is not easy, but there are instructions for those interested in trying their luck.

  20. Qoi Pond

    I have a pigeon linebreed I’m working on and they’re all named after space probes. I know the next peep’s name ;)

  21. HyperIon

    A gyroscope is, originally, a spinning disk on a stick. A reaction wheel is a spinning disk on a motor. Kind of funny they hadn’t thought to combine them before

  22. Dark Winter

    Sees the corona? Point it back at earth, we need to know who’s got it! 😉

  23. Number Six

    1 dislike from the engineer who pushed that button.

  24. Hdhnswk

    SOHO is mainly a ESA Spacecraft, it just has a few NASA instruments onboard

  25. Cowfat

    how’s everyone’s day

  26. joseph jeon

    Idk why but i legit got so hyped when he said soho survived. It was like storytelling at its finest

  27. JackClayton123

    I have a background in electrical engineering, and I still find it it fascinating how they manage these problems.

  28. Sovereignwind

    I don’t know why, but I love hearing about satellite missions getting extended. And the fact that this one has been going for about 10x longer than planned is just mind boggling.

  29. Buck Anderson

    Serendipity: a fortunate mistake.

  30. Juan G Lebron Medina

    It was the Arecibo observatory who found SOHO went is was out of control.
    Today Arecibo collapse because of NSF funding cuts.

  31. Davie Jay

    SOHO SDO and the stereo sats are pretty amazing
    Especially with the ramp up to solar max in the coming years.
    Excited for another great fireworks show!

  32. Gus Your Benevolent Dicta

    “Enormous tornadoes on the sun.” Ok, you got my attention.


    How am I this early?

    Also, Stellar Tornadoes are amazing. I would say that they are cool, but they’re literally not.

  34. Lulu Henderson

    271! Still feels early to me 😊

  35. FIRE STORM 3692


  36. BS Anime

    The spacecraft was doomed to burn up in the Sun until a scientist had a *bright* idea

  37. Andrew A

    Soho is a bad mofo

  38. hereticpariah 6/66

    *Not first!*

  39. superdupergrover

    Plasnado would be a much better movie.

  40. Peter Seip


  41. Nicolas Peters

    are the videos of the sun in real time?

  42. hsvracer

    At 5m33s into this vid, when comets are being discussed, why is the tail of the comet trailing directly behind its orbital arc and not being pushed more perpendicular to the sun itself ?

  43. thepeff

    So you could say the wheels in the sky kept on turning. Quite a journey, Hank.

  44. Genaro Canero

    How that comet at the last minute (5:40) left a trace behind after passing near the sun? shouldn’t it be ahead of it?

  45. Snaily

    Should rename it Icarus

  46. Advait Talekar


  47. Barry Dysert

    S upremely O utlandish
    H armonious O utcome 🖖

  48. Andrew Weaver


  49. Wyrmhand

    Is a SOHO 2 planed?

  50. Richard manberp0g

    Hello Hank!

  51. John Jordan


  52. Ojas Suryawanshi

    SOHO is awesome
    Be like SOHO

  53. Big Whombalaboomba

    Hell yeah. Science.

  54. killi mimes

    Reminds me of my wedding night

  55. mikelor84

    0:56 the WHAT
    me: “last night I had a nightmare that my mom died of covid19 and I woke up in cold sweats. this stuff is getting to my head, better to try not to think about corona too much…”
    Electroboom: “We’ll create an arc by exploiting the CORONA discharge…”
    me: *cringing*
    Hank: “…to study things the Sun’s *CORONA*… ”
    me: *cringing* “whyyyyyyyy? tu quoque Hanke!”

  56. rinn slack


  57. Trevor Frederick

    Very cool! Neat to see a mission I work on a bit featured here.

  58. Gabriel Martins

    Oh no, the Sun has corona? 😢

  59. Existenceisillusion

    I couldn’t find a SOHO version of this, so this will have to do.

  60. Devin C.R.

    Ever have one of those revelatory moments where you realize something that you’ve already known but just hadn’t really thought about until now? And somehow it feels just as cool as if you hadn’t known about the thing before?? I don’t know why this video did it, but like. Man. The sun is literally just an incomprehensibly massive, ongoing explosion. Every time you look at the sky on a clear day you’re seeing a nuclear explosion. A nuclear explosion that all life on earth is powered by! This is such a “Stoner At 3AM” revelation, but gosh, space is cool.

  61. Alexey

    This is the same satellite which predicts auroras, right?

  62. P DaPhuuLz

    thanks to that one misstep.

  63. Jeeva D. Tharan

    Great video as always.
    I request to do a video abt Arecibo Radar telescope, from conception, construction to sad death. It would be great.

  64. New Message

    This year has really gotten to me. I heard ‘Study the sun’s corona’, and for a second I thought, “Oh no.. the Sun has the ‘rona!”

  65. Alex Dishong


  66. TheEnabledDisabled

    Spinning, that a good trick

  67. help me

    Problems always happen during routine maintenance!

  68. Questa Semplice Animazion

    What would be really cool is an world-of-worship kind of game wher you control a battle spaceship with little propellers and a huge array of tools to catch solar winds.

  69. Alex Landherr

    So like that Progress cargo vehicle that lost attitude control a few years ago on its way to the ISS?

  70. Christel Headington

    Thousands of little comets…sounds so poetic.

  71. Isuru Senanayaka

    soho is designed to explore corona
    covid 19 – are you kidding me bro

  72. omar defnany

    now that’s what I call a fine piece of equipment!!!

  73. Lyndsay Brown

    I love a happy ending :)

  74. Joel Reyes

    I wonder what instruments they will use to stabilize the satellite when one of the spinning wheels go bad on the next generation of satellites.

  75. Sarah S

    What if you messed up at work… but your work was SPACE?

  76. Rick Seiden

    Not only are solar tornados frighteningly awesome, but “The Solar Tornados” would be an awesome band name!

  77. Brenden Pischke

    Gees, what speeds did that comet hit grazing the sun like that?

  78. eliljeho

    Little did we know… someone based a seminar on little did we know…

  79. Alex Landherr

    At 4:30, so we have a satellite relying on an improvised solution that’s better than the original one?

  80. Amanda Shields

    I took some of those pictures! I worked on SOHO in 2013-2014!

  81. Alan Paul

    Cool – I like it when a plan comes together beyond our expectations in spite of our best efforts to screw it up.

  82. Oat lord

    SOHO is even in movies.

  83. Guy Boo

    Nasa: “Hey, so you know how you were gonna retire after 2 years?”
    Soho: “Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that.”
    Nasa: “Yeah… Actually things are going so well we’ve volunteered you for five more years! Isn’t that great? Soho?”
    Soho: “Not if I have anything to say about it…”

    Nasa: “Heeeeeyyy Soho!”
    Soho: “…What.”
    Nasa: “So good to finally reach you! Wow crazy what happened back there, so random! Anyway, we’ve fixed the problem and we’ve volunteered you for _twenty_ more years!”

  84. Melodee Aaron

    Great info about SOHO.

    How about a SciShow about the origins, life, and sad death of the Arecibo dish?

  85. Babs likes cartoons

    “How do you lose a sattelite?!”
    “You forget to cherish her.”

  86. Jona V

    Brohos before SOHOs I guess

  87. Kvera

    Gyroscope is done, we are doomed….
    No captain, activate the spinny spinny!

  88. Ricardo Thomas Manuel Her

    “Tornado’s on the sun” is a phrase people that live in tornado ally are probably not gonna want to hear or see in cinema… but I want that movie made lmfao!

  89. Benjamin Cronce

    yolo soho. So crazy, the world is spinning.

  90. ManosS40

    My beloved SOHO! I used data from SOHO in the late 90s for my bachelor’s degree in physics. I even have a poster of SOHO somewhere!

  91. Felixkeeg

    This is the most “Trust me, I’m an engineer”- war story ever

  92. Jiayin Luo

    Arecibo is the extremely powerful radar telescope in question

  93. Tammy McCaslin

    Maybe the real treasure was the satellite piloting methods we learned along the way.

  94. Zachary Perkins

    “And this new technique turned out to be even more precise than SOHO’s original gyroscopes”

  95. The Exoplanets Channel

    How to save a spacecraft spinning out of control?…

    TARS: “it’s not possible”
    Cooper: *_”No, it’s necessary”_*

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