Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spacecraft Designed to Capture 3-D Views of Sun Set For Launch

Date:
August 21, 2006
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
Two nearly identical spacecrafts, destined to capture the first-ever 3-D views of the sun, are scheduled for launch on Aug. 31 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

STEREO observatories are the focus of attention at a media viewing held at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla. The two observatories were mated for launch but will separate into different orbits for their mission. STEREO stands for Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory. The STEREO mission is the first to take measurements of the sun and solar wind in 3-D.
Credit: Photo credit: NASA/George Shelton

Two nearly identical spacecraft, destined to capture the first-ever 3-D views of the sun, are scheduled for launch on Aug. 31 aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 3:12 p.m. or 4:20 p.m. EDT. The window extends through Sept. 4 with two launch opportunities daily.

Built and operated for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., the two-year STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) mission will explore the origin, evolution and interplanetary consequences of coronal mass ejections. These powerful solar eruptions are a major source of the magnetic disruptions on Earth and a key component of space weather, which can greatly affect satellite operations, communications, power systems, and the lives of astronauts in space.

“Building and testing two spacecraft simultaneously has been a technical and scheduling challenge, but an effort at which we’ve been successful,” says Ed Reynolds, APL STEREO project manager. “The entire STEREO team is so proud and excited to launch the twin observatories and be part of the first mission to capture coronal mass ejections in 3-D.”

To capture the sun in 3-D, the twin observatories will fly as mirror images of each other. One of the observatories will be placed ahead of Earth in its orbit around the sun and the other behind. Just as the slight offset between your eyes provides you with depth perception, this placement will allow the STEREO observatories to obtain 3-D images and particle measurements of the sun.

Placing STEREO into Orbit
STEREO mission designers determined that the most efficient and cost-effective way to get the observatories into space was to launch them aboard a single rocket and use lunar swingbys to place them into their respective orbits. This is the first time lunar swingbys have been used to manipulate orbits of more than one spacecraft. Mission designers will use the moon’s gravity to redirect the observatories to their appropriate orbits – something the launch vehicle alone can’t do.

After launch the observatories will initially fly in an elliptical orbit that extends from Earth just beyond the moon. Approximately two months later, mission operations personnel at APL will synchronize spacecraft orbits and direct one observatory to its position trailing Earth. Approximately three months after launch, the second observatory will be redirected to its position ahead of Earth.

Each STEREO observatory will carry two instruments and two instrument suites, providing more than a dozen instruments per observatory. APL designed and built the spacecraft platform housing the instruments. When combined with data from observatories on the ground or in space, STEREO’s data will allow scientists to track the buildup and liftoff of magnetic energy from the sun and the trajectory of Earth-bound coronal mass ejections in 3-D.

STEREO’s instruments were built by numerous organizations worldwide with a principal investigator, or PI, leading each instrument team. The instruments and PIs are as follows: Sun-Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) – Russell Howard, Naval Research Laboratory; In situ Measurements of PArticles and CME Transients (IMPACT) – Janet Luhmann, University of California, Berkeley; PLAsma and SupraThermal Ion Composition (PLASTIC) – Antoinette Galvin, University of New Hampshire; and STEREO/WAVES (S/WAVES) – Jean-Louis Bougeret, Paris Observatory, Meudon.

STEREO is the third mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes Program. STEREO is sponsored by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. NASA Goddard’s Solar Terrestrial Probes Program Office, in Greenbelt, Md., manages the mission, instruments and science center. APL designed and built the STEREO spacecraft and will operate the twin observatories for NASA during the mission.

For more information about STEREO or to download additional images, visit http://stereo.jhuapl.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Spacecraft Designed to Capture 3-D Views of Sun Set For Launch." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060820191815.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (2006, August 21). Spacecraft Designed to Capture 3-D Views of Sun Set For Launch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060820191815.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Spacecraft Designed to Capture 3-D Views of Sun Set For Launch." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060820191815.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

AP (Apr. 20, 2014) Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. (April 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Extremely Large Telescope Could Spot Alien Life

Extremely Large Telescope Could Spot Alien Life

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) Scientists are preparing to blow up a Chilean mountain to construct the Extremely Large Telescope, which will take detailed pictures of exoplanets. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) FOREO, a Swedish cosmetics company, says it wants to brighten the moon to lower electricity costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins