NASA’s STEREO Spacecraft Witnesses a Dramatic Solar Eruption

New images from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory show a dramatic solar eruption captured by one of STEREO’s two spacecraft, STEREO-B, which currently has a view of the far side of the sun.


A bright eruption of solar material surges into space as captured by NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, which currently has a view of the far side of the sun. Image Credit: NASA/STEREO

NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory witnessed a dramatic solar eruption on August 24, 2014 — even with one of its “eyes” partially closed.

This imagery of a coronal mass ejection, a giant explosion of solar material that explodes out into space, was captured by one of STEREO’s two spacecraft, STEREO-B, which currently has a view of the far side of the sun.

The second spacecraft, STEREO-A, however, is in a temporary phase of recording only low-resolution data. Due to an orbit that has moved it toward the other side of the sun from Earth, STEREO-A adjusted its dish-shaped antenna on Aug. 20 to point slightly away from the bright heat of the star, and consequently to a position that isn’t pointed directly at Earth. The signal still comes to Earth but is fainter, so the spacecraft will be sharing only low-resolution data until it reemerges on the other side of the sun in early 2016.

Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory Views a Dramatic Solar Eruption

Two images of the same coronal mass ejection erupting from the sun — hidden by the middle circles — on August 24, 2014. The left image from ESA/NASA’s SOHO was captured from Earth’s perspective. The right image from NASA’s STEREO was captured from the far side of the sun. Image Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO/STEREO

The twin STEREO spacecraft provide views of the sun from a different angle than can be seen from Earth’s perspective. When combined with images from near-Earth spacecraft like the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, it helps scientists understand the three-dimensional shape of the sun’s brilliant CME eruptions.

Source: Karen C. Fox, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Image: ESA/NASA/SOHO/STEREO

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