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Sunday
Feb062011

NASA Releases First 3D Images of Sun, Touts Scientific Advances

Image Courtesy - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/STEREO/SECCHI (GREENBELT, Md.) -- NASA released images on Sunday that show, for the first time, a complete view of the sun's entire surface and atmosphere. Two satellites with unmatched photographic capability deployed by NASA moved into position and were able to simultaneously transmit the images back to earth. With each satellite showing one side of the sun, NASA engineers pieced both images together to create the spherical image.

The satellites, which NASA calls STEREO, for their ability to see all angles of the sun, are specifically tuned to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation in order to detect solar flares and tsunamis.

"For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory," says Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the STEREO science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to use these images to further aid with weather forecasts for airlines, power companies, satellite operators, and others.

"With this nice global model, we can now track solar storms heading toward other planets, too," said STEREO program scientist Lika Guhathakurta. "This is important for NASA missions to Mercury, Mars, asteroids … you name it."

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