Feeds

NASA snaps Sun in super STEREO

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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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). ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.