Feeds

NASA snaps Sun in super STEREO

Twin probes image star's 'three-dimensional glory'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

NASA has released the first images from its twin Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) probes as they moved into position on opposite sides of the Sun.

STEREO image of the Sun. Pic: NASA

The above snap shows the far side of the Sun captured on 2 February, when the two spacecraft weren't quite separated by 180 degrees, hence the small gap in the data.

Yesterday, though, STEREO-A and B achieved full opposition, and NASA assures the gap "will completely close over the next several days".

NASA explains: "Each STEREO probe photographs half of the star and beams the images to Earth. Researchers combine the two views to create a sphere. These aren't just regular pictures, however. STEREO's telescopes are tuned to four wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet radiation selected to trace key aspects of solar activity such as flares, tsunamis and magnetic filaments. Nothing escapes their attention."

The agency adds that STEREO's continuous coverage of the entire star will "enable significant advances in space weather forecasting for Earth, and improve planning for future robotic or crewed spacecraft missions throughout the solar system".

It will also ensure we never get caught off guard by "farside" events which could, as the Sun rotates, impact on Earth with "spitting flares and clouds of plasma".

"Not any more," promised Bill Murtagh, a senior forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. "Farside active regions can no longer take us by surprise. Thanks to STEREO, we know they're coming."

Artist's impression of STEREO probe viewing the Sun. Image: NASA

The STEREO probes were launched in October 2006. NASA expects that, in conjunction with the Solar Dynamics Observatory, they will provide full coverage of the Sun for the next eight years.

NASA has a briefing on STEREO's first full-Sun images here (pdf). ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.