The sun in STEREO:
Parallax gives depth to life. Simultaneous viewing from slightly different vantage points makes binocular humans superior to monocular cyclopes, and fixes us in the third dimension of the Universe. We’ve been stunned by 3-d images of Venus and Mars (along with more familiar views of earth). Now astronomers plan to give us the best view of all, 3-d images of the dynamic Sun. That’s one of the prime goals of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatories, also known as STEREO. STEREO is a pair of spacecraft observatories, one placed in orbit in front of earth, and one to be placed in an earth-trailing orbit. Simultaneous observations of the Sun with the two STEREO spacecraft will provide extraordinary 3-d views of all types of solar activity, especially the dramatic events called coronal mass ejections which send high energy particles from the outer solar atmosphere hurtling towards earth. The image above the first image of the sun by the two STEREO spacecraft, an extreme ultraviolet shot of the Sun’s million-degree corona, taken by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager on the Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instrument package. STEREO’s first 3-d solar images should be available in April if all goes well. Put on your red and blue glasses!