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Seeing in STEREO

July 17, 2008

Solar physicists see the sun in 3-D with NASA’s STEREO Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory.


Seeing double in space. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun disrupt the earth’s magnetic field, interfering with communication systems and causing power outages. According to solar physicist Terry Kucera of NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, the STEREO Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory is revealing the three-dimensional structure of these phenomena and how fast they travel. It consists of twin spacecraft that take images of the sun from two different angles, which Kucera likens to having two eyes.

TERRY KUCERA (NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center):
Our brain knows how to use those two points of view to really calculate instantaneously how far away something is from us. With two views with a spacecraft, we can do something similar.

She says information from STEREO will help scientists predict the effects of these solar events in the future. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.