June 2, 2020

07.02.11: Seeing the Sun in STEREO.

Amid the Super Bowl madness that was this past weekend, a quiet milestone was reached in the realm of Spaceweather; NASA’s twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft achieved a 360 degree coverage vantage point in respect to our sun.

Launched in 2006, the twin Stereo A and B spacecraft are designed to give us full coverage of our nearest star. One is in an Earth trailing solar orbit, and one is placed in an Earth leading solar orbit. Both have been getting incrementally further apart and have just now reached the point of full solar coverage. This weekend, NASA released some fairly mind-blowing videos taken from the pair:

The deployment of the STEREO pair couldn’t be timelier; as the sun ramps up to an 11 year solar maximum in 2013-14, and this time around a battery of space borne solar observatories will scrutinize the sun as never before. In the olden days (re: before yesterday) astronomers had scant warning as a monster flare rotated into view and aimed itself at us. With STEREO’s unique vantage point(s), we won’t be fooled again. True, the emerging science of helioseismology gave us somewhat of a view via predictive modeling of the backside of our sun, but STEREO will study these hidden happenings in unprecedented detail. This also gives spacecraft bound for various points in the solar system a heads up of an impending radiation bath, as well. The understanding of spaceweather and solar activity is crucial as we become more and more dependent on technology. Bigger lead time to the next “big one” from the sun can give scientists and engineers time to react, safeguarding everything from orbiting satellites to earthbound transformers. New spacecraft such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory and STEREO give us an eye in the sky, an early warning system that is invaluable in studying our sometimes temperamental star.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Dickinson, enrique servin. enrique servin said: RT @Astroguyz 07.02.11: Seeing the Sun in STEREO: http://bit.ly/hhOL48 A crucial milestone reached in the study of our nearest star #nasa [...]

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