The most technologically advanced of NASA's heliophysics spacecraft, SDO will take images of the sun every 0.75 seconds and daily send back about 1.5 terabytes of data to Earth - the equivalent of streaming 380 full-length movies.
"This is going to be sensational," said Richard R Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
"SDO is going to make a huge step forward in our understanding of the sun and its effects on life and society," he added.
SDO will explore activity on the sun that can disable satellites, cause power grid failures, and disrupt GPS communications.
SDO also will provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate.
The mission is the cornerstone of a NASA science program called Living With A Star.
This program will provide new understanding and information concerning the sun and solar system that directly affect Earth, its inhabitants and technology.