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The STEREO space mission has two spacecraft. Each spacecraft has a different view of the Sun. Scientists can put together pictures from the two different viewing angles. They can make 3D views of the Sun and of space weather "storms" this way.
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Image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) Space Mission

STEREO is a NASA space mission to study the Sun. STEREO stands for Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory. STEREO also studies huge space weather storms from the Sun called Coronal Mass Ejections (CME).

STEREO blasted off in October 2006. There are actually two STEREO spacecraft that are pretty much twins. After launch, the two spacecraft flew by the Moon on slightly different paths. The Moon's gravity changed the directions the spacecraft. One was flung forward along Earth's orbit around the Sun. The other spacecraft was steered backward along Earth's orbit.

You can see things in 3D because you have two eyes that are a little bit apart. The two STEREO spacecraft can see the Sun and CMEs in 3D because STEREO's "eyes" (the cameras on the two spacecraft) are far apart. Scientists can combine pictures from the two STEREO spacecraft to create 3D stereoscopic images of the Sun.

Last modified May 4, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA