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NASA Celebrates 10 Years Of Staring At The Sun

First Posted: Oct 26, 2016 05:19 AM EDT
NASA's New 'STEREO' Spacecraft Set To Launch
Technicians at Astrotech Space Operations wait to maneuver NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) during a media opportunity.
(Photo : Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

Between the Earth and the Sun spans a total of some 93 million miles that NASA has apparently, spent an entire decade watching.

Popular Mechanics noted that for the past decade, two satellites, named STEREO-A and STEREO-B have been travelling to get a more complete picture of the sun. The two satellites follow orbits ahead and behind the earth to provide a stereoscopic view of the sun so that we can see things like solar flares, ribbons, and other prominent images from the sun in 3-D.

Yes, there had been other missions, such as the ESA and the SOHO Satellites, but little have been found regarding the search for Sun-related questions. STEREO was the first to capture the first full 3D imaging of the sun, and the first to render and map coronal mass ejections accurately. Thus, NASA coordinated both STEREO satellites to fly just inside and just outside the Earth's own orbit, to get data from three distinct areas in the solar system.

Unfortunately, as noted by Wired, Stereo B went dark about two days ago, but the mission remains to be a success, as its dual-angle imaging capability helped confirm that solar wind is really solar plasma that is drifting too far from home. As the sun's magnetic field weakens, the plasma acts as a gas that streams out to fill the space around it.

Solar weather is not all about death and destruction, though. An active sun like ours spits a lot of coronal mass ejections and charged particles that could have been supplying the earth of energy to give probiotic material a chance to start life on the surface of the planet - and these things would not have come to scientists' attentions if we didn't start staring at the sun for as long as we did.

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