STEREO Achieves Full Solar Coverage: All the Sun. All the Time

  • Released Sunday, February 6th, 2011
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:53PM
  • ID: 3809

When the two STEREO spacecraft move into positions on opposite sides of the Sun, we will have the capability to see a full 360 degrees around the solar sphere (there will probably still be some gaps in visibility near the poles of the Sun). Combined with solar observing satellites near the Earth, such as SDO and SOHO, this coverage will last for about eight years and the STEREO spacecraft move along in their orbits.

This movie illustrates the orbital motions of the two STEREO spacecraft relative to the Earth (and noting the positions of the planets Mercury & Venus for reference). The camera occupies a position fixed relative to the Earth and Sun, so the distant starfield appears to spin around the observer.

Because the frames are sampled at one per solar day, the Earth does not appear to rotate, but patient observation reveals that the tilt of the planet relative to the Sun, varies throughout the year, with the northern hemisphere tilted towards the Sun in northern hemisphere summer and away from the Sun in northern hemisphere winter.

This movie shows the STEREO spacecraft moving around the Sun relative to Earth's orbit, the orbit plotted through 2019, after the two STEREOs cross behind the Sun relative to Earth. The Earth is enlarged to keep it visible. The Sun is enlarged by a factor of 5 for visibility,


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


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