3D 4k for STEREO's 10th Anniversary

  • Released Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:48PM
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This 3-D video can be seen with red and cyan 3-D paper glasses.

Launched ten years ago, on Oct. 25, 2006, the twin spacecraft of NASA’s STEREO mission – short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory – have given us unprecedented views of the sun.

In 2007, STEREO provided the first multi-viewpoint images of the sun. For the first time, scientists were able to see structures in the sun's atmosphere in three dimensions. Then, in 2011, they gave us the first-ever simultaneous view of the entire star at once. This kind of comprehensive data is key to understanding how the sun erupts with things like coronal mass ejections and energetic particles, as well as how those events move through space, sometimes impacting Earth and other worlds. Ten years ago, the twin STEREO spacecraft joined a fleet of NASA spacecraft keeping an eye on the sun and its influence on Earth and space – but they provided a new and unique perspective.

The two STEREO observatories, called STEREO-A and STEREO-B – for Ahead and Behind, respectively – were sent out from Earth in opposite directions. Using gravitational assists from both the moon and Earth, the STEREO spacecraft were accelerated to Earth-escape velocities. STEREO-A was inserted into an orbit slightly smaller, and therefore faster, than Earth’s. For STEREO-B, the reverse happened: It was nudged into an orbit slightly larger than Earth’s so that it traveled around the sun more slowly, falling increasingly behind the Earth. As the spacecraft slowly fanned out away from the centerline between Earth and the sun – where every other sun-watching spacecraft is located – they revealed more and more new information about our closest star.

This footage is from March and April 2007, when the small separation of the two spacecraft allowed a stereoscopic view of the sun similar to how human eyes perceive the world around us. These images were captured by STEREO in several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light which show different layers of the sun’s atmosphere. The number in the lower right of the video shows the wavelength of light measured in Angstroms.

Music: "Soothing" and “Serendipity" from Erstwhile
All tracks written and produced by Lars Leonhard
www.lars-leonhard.de

Gif loop of STEREO's 3D view of the sun in the 284 Angstrom wavelength.

Gif loop of STEREO's 3D view of the sun in the 284 Angstrom wavelength.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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