Seeing The Sun In 3-D
Reported April 2011
WASHINGTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) --NASA has been watching and taking pictures of the sun for decades, but a complete, full image of the sun has never been captured--until now. Now, we’ll tell you about a never before seen view of the sun.
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It’s springtime-- time to soak it up! But there’s more to it than getting a good tan and some vitamin D. For the first time ever, astrophysicists at NASA have released images of the sun like we’ve never seen it before-- in all its three-dimensional glory.
“Up until now, we’ve been seeing more and more of the sides and now we can see the back, we can now see the entire sun,” Terry Kucera, Ph.D., Astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland told Ivanhoe.
NASA’s solar terrestrial relations observatory – or STEREO –launched in 2006, sent two satellites to orbit around the sun. The satellites are now on opposite sides of the sun, beaming back photos of solar activity from the sun’s other side we’ve never seen.
“We want to be able to see the far side, so we know what’s going to be rotating at us in a few weeks time,” Dr. Kucera said.
Each satellite takes images of half of the sun. Researchers then combine the two views to create a sphere. Other pictures are taken in ultraviolet light that lets researchers see pictures of solar activity in more detail.
“These coronal mass ejections and other kinds of solar activity can affect communications, they can affect navigation for instance GPS systems, they can sometimes cause power outages, and they can cause problems with spacecraft,” Dr. Kucera added.
Having a full view of the sun will help scientists improve space weather forecasts and help better predict when the next coronal mass ejection might send a stream of charged particles toward Earth.
“The sun is finally perking up, and so just in the last few weeks we’ve gotten some really more active, active regions and so we’ve gotten some nice bright flares and coronal mass ejections,” Dr. Kucera concluded.
It’s a first look at the sun’s other bright side. Researchers have long suspected that solar activity can go global, with coronal mass ejections on opposite sides of the sun triggering and feeding off one another. Now researchers can actually study the phenomenon.
The American Physical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Therese Kucera, PhD
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