Via National Geographic:
March 1, 2007—Twin NASA spacecraft studying the sun have beamed their spectacular first images to Earth, helping scientists to detect and track solar storms that can fry satellites, harm astronauts, and overload power lines.I just love the pretty blue pictures. Okay, the science is way cool too.
The panoramic images, released today, were taken by a suite of five telescopes on the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft, which were launched on October 25, 2006.
The pictures provide a closeup view of the sun's activity, such as this snapshot of loops in a magnetically active region that soon afterward produced a series of intense flares (top). The images also provide a progressive view of the sun's radiation all the way to Earth's atmosphere (bottom).
Scientists say this new sweeping viewpoint will let them study the flow of energy from the sun to Earth, especially coronal mass ejections—violent eruptions of electrically charged gas from the sun's atmosphere that can cause dangerous solar storms.