Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stereo Spacecraft Make First 3d Images Of Sun

24.04.2007
NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft have made the first three-dimensional images of the sun. The new view will improve space weather forecasting and greatly aid scientists’ ability to understand solar physics.

"The improvement with STEREO's 3D view is like going from a regular X-ray to a 3D CAT scan in the medical field," said Dr. Michael Kaiser, STEREO Project Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

NASA's STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) spacecraft were launched on October 25, 2006, and on January 21 completed a series of complex manoeuvres, including flying by the moon, to position the spacecraft in their mission orbits. The two observatories are orbiting the sun, one slightly ahead of Earth and one slightly behind, separating from each other by approximately 45 degrees per year. Just as the slight offset between your eyes provides you with depth perception, this separation of the spacecraft allows them to take 3-D images and particle measurements of the sun.

Violent solar weather originates in the sun's atmosphere, or corona, and can disrupt satellites, radio communication, and power grids on Earth. The corona is translucent, like a ghost in an old movie, and it flows along the sun's tangled magnetic fields, so it sometimes looks like spaghetti gone wild. It's hard for scientists to tell which structures are in front and which are behind.

Images from the SECCHI (Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation) telescopes on each spacecraft are being combined to create the 3D views. The detectors for all the STEREO cameras were built at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. The HI cameras on SECCHI were built at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) said “Understanding the complex processes that happen in our Sun is a big challenge. Using the two eyes of our STEREO spacecraft we are able to see in 3 dimensions, allowing us to understand the relative positions of matter around the Sun and measure more precisely where the front of a CME is.”

Dr Chris Davis, also from RAL said "It is a tribute to UK engineering that these wonderful 3D images are only possible because of the detector systems developed at the Science Technology Facilities Council."

Andy Breen of the University of Wales Aberystwyth added "We've always known that we need to study the Sun in three dimensions in order to understand the complex structures in the solar atmosphere. STEREO provides us with the first opportunity to do this. University of Wales Aberystwyth have been involved in STEREO planning from an early stage and, with the help of See3D, we are now in a terrific position to be one of the first to exploit these data"

See3D are a 3D visualisation company recently spun-out from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. They have developed 3D projection facilities which will provide UK scientists with unprecedented views of the complex 3D structure of the Sun and its extended atmosphere.

STEREO's depth perception will also help improve space weather forecasts. Of particular concern is a destructive type of solar eruption called a Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME. CMEs are eruptions of electrically charged gas, called plasma, from the sun's atmosphere. A CME cloud can contain billions of tons of plasma and move at a million miles per hour. The CME cloud is laced with magnetic fields, and CMEs directed our way smash into Earth's magnetic field. If the CME magnetic fields have the proper orientation, they dump energy and particles into Earth's magnetic field, causing magnetic storms that can overload power line equipment and radiation storms that disrupt satellites.

Satellite and utility operators can take precautions to minimize CME damage, but they need an accurate forecast of when the CME will arrive. To do this, forecasters need to know the location of the front of the CME cloud. STEREO will allow scientists to accurately locate the CME cloud front.

Dr Chris Eyles of the University of Birmingham said “STEREO will allow scientists to study the 3D structure of a CME cloud and predict in advance which ones will cause serious magnetic storms with the potential to cause problems on Earth.”

The first 3D images from STEREO are being provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. STEREO is the third mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program. STEREO is sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Goddard Science and Exploration Directorate manages the mission, instruments, and science centre. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., designed and built the spacecraft and is operating them for NASA during the mission. The STEREO instruments were designed and built by scientific institutions in the US, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

UK scientists and engineers have contributed to STEREO by building the HI (Heliospheric Imager) cameras for the SECCHI package on each observatory. HI is a wide angled imaging system (meaning it has a broad field of view) and will be studying how CMEs propagate, particularly those that are likely to affect the Earth. HI was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is responsible for the scientific exploitation of the heliospheric imagers as well as providing the detectors used in all of STEREO's camera systems. Both heliospheric imagers were built in the UK at the University of Birmingham.

The University of Wales Aberystwyth is one of the first UK institutions to work on exploiting the data and producing 3D simulations via their spin-out company See3D.

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/main/index.html
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/news/stereo3D_press.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tracing aromatic molecules in the early universe
23.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht New study maps space dust in 3-D
23.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>