Here Comes the Sun–All 360 Degrees

The understanding and forecasting of space weather could take great steps forward with the help of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission, which recently captured the first-ever images taken simultaneously from opposite sides of the sun. NASA launched two STEREO probes in October of 2006, and on February 6 they finally reached their positions 180 degrees apart from each other, where they could each photograph half of the sun. The STEREO probes are tuned to wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet radiation that will allow them to monitor such solar activity as sunspots, flares, tsunamis, and magnetic filaments, and the probes’ positioning means that this activity will never be hidden, so storms originating from the far side of the sun will no longer be a surprise. The 360-degree views will also facilitate the study of other solar phenomenon, such as the possibility that solar eruptions on opposite sides of the sun can gain intensity by feeding off each other. The NASA clip below includes video of the historic 360-degree view.