Thanks to a spacecraft called STEREO, NASA has seen the other side of the Sun.
NASA released the first ever 360 degree image of the Sun in a video over the weekend. The space exploration agency says the images, which were taken from two probes that each captured half of the star, confirm the sun is in fact a sphere. The photos were eventually beamed to Earth.
For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory, Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the STEREO science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. This is a big moment in solar physics. STEREO has revealed the sun as it really is--a sphere of hot plasma and intricately woven magnetic fields.
STEREO, or Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory, is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program. The twin probed STEREO shows two images, one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind and it traces the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth NASA says.
NASA says getting this full view of the sun will allow for better weather forecasts for airlines, power companies, satellite operators, and other customers. It will also be able to forecast certain weather patterns across the galaxy; for instance predicting when solar storms are headed towards other planets.
With data like these, we can fly around the sun to see what's happening over the horizon-without ever leaving our desks, STEREO program scientist Lika Guhathakurta at NASA headquarters, said in a statement. I expect great advances in theoretical solar physics and space weather forecasting.
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