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Here Comes the Sun in STEREO

January 27th, 2011

For the past 4 years, the two STEREO spacecraft have been moving away from Earth and gaining a more complete picture of the sun. On Feb. 6, 2011, NASA will hold a press conference to reveal the first ever images of the entire sun and discuss the importance of seeing all of our dynamic star.

Let me bottom-line it for you: The Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) mission consists of two nearly identical spacecraft. One follows Earth around the sun; the other leads us. When those two craft are 180 degrees apart from each other, they will be able to see the ENTIRE sun simultaneously.

The time has almost come.

Below is a screen shot I took from the STEREO website. As you can see, Stereo A and Stereo B are almost 180 degrees from each other — on opposite sides of the sun — and 90 degrees from Earth. The orbits have been migrating gradually into this configuration for years, since the mission’s 2006 launch.

map of stereo spacecraft orbital positions around the sun

You’ll be hearing much more about this from NASA and gogblog as we approach February 9.
OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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