NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft made its first close approach to Earth since its launch in 2006 and began moving away from our world. The closest approach occurred on August 12.
The Twin STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) spacecraft was launched on October 25, 2006 from the United States Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.
STEREO-A (the letter “A” stands for “ahead”) passed Earth in its orbit around the Sun, while STEREO-B (the letter “B” stands for “behind”), in contrast, lagged behind Earth. As they revolved around the sun.
Within the first few years of launch, the mission of both spacecraft achieved its historic goal: to provide the first stereoscopic, or multi-view, view of our nearest star.
On February 6, 2011, the mission reached another milestone: STEREO-A and STEREO-B reached a 180-degree separation in their orbits. For the first time, humanity saw our sun as a complete sphere. Never before has there been an opportunity to see both sides of the sun at the same time.
Finally, the STEREO spacecraft gave us a three-dimensional view of the Sun.
STEREO-A Artist’s impression of observing the sun. (Image: NASA GSFC)
The mission achieved many scientific achievements over the years, and researchers studied the solar landscape provided by each of the two spacecraft until 2014, when mission control center STEREO-B on Earth lost contact with STEREO-B after a planned restart.
However, STEREO-A continues its journey, capturing solar landscapes on the Sun’s side that are currently not visible from Earth.
In addition, the combination of STEREO-A images captured by other spacecraft from other positions enables us to view both sides of the Sun simultaneously and obtain more accurate 3D information.
This month, Stereo-A’s lead over Earth in its orbit around the Sun increased to a full revolution. (Source: NCYT T AMAZING)