Tomorrow, February 6, 2011, we will be able to see the front and the far side of the Sun, simultaneously, for the first time in history.
Probes to observe the Sun
Stereo (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is the third mission of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) program.
The two nearly identical spacecrafts were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull further ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth (one leads the Earth, and the other follows the Earth).
Since they were launched, in 2006, they progressively flew away from the Earth. Tomorrow, they will reach a particular configuration, allowing the observation of the entire 360 degrees of the Sun: the two probes will be exactly 180 degrees apart from each other.
Maps of the Sun’s global coronal magnetic field
Seeing the entire Sun will help scientists make more accurate maps of global coronal magnetic field and topology as well as better forecasting of active regions. Scientists will study more precisely the Sun’s magnetic field and build computer models.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will complete STEREO data and give us a global view of our star, allowing to study the Sun as a complete whole.