Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solar-Studying Spacecraft Successfully Launched

Date:
October 26, 2006
Source:
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecraft -- en route as the first mission to capture the sun in 3-D -- successfully launched Oct. 25 aboard a single Delta II vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. During its two-year mission, the twin observatories 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.

The Delta II launch vehicle carrying the STEREO spacecraft hurtles through the smoke and steam after liftoff from Launch Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Liftoff was at 8:52 p.m. EDT. STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is a two-year mission using two nearly identical observatories, one ahead of Earth in its orbit and the other trailing behind. The duo will provide 3-D measurements of the sun and its flow of energy, enabling scientists to study the nature of coronal mass ejections and why they happen.
Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA's STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecraft -- en route as the first mission to capture the sun in 3-D -- successfully launched Oct. 25 aboard a single Delta II vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 8:52 p.m. EDT.

Related Articles


The two nearly identical spacecraft, designed, built and operated for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., separated from the launch vehicle 25 minutes after lift-off. After receiving the first signal from the spacecraft 63 minutes after launch, mission control personnel at APL confirmed each observatory's solar arrays successfully deployed and were providing power to the spacecraft. The initial radio signals were forwarded to the APL-based STEREO Mission Operations Center from NASA's Deep Space Network antennas in Canberra, Australia.

During its two-year mission, the twin observatories 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.

Placing STEREO into Orbit

For the next few weeks, the spacecraft will fly in an elliptical orbit that extends from Earth just beyond the moon. During this time, mission operations personnel at APL will place the spacecraft in flight mode, turn on and check out all instruments and subsystems, and ensure all systems are operating nominally in preparation to begin their data collection efforts.

In approximately two months, mission operations personnel at APL will synchronize spacecraft orbits and direct one observatory to its position ahead of Earth. In approximately three months, the second observatory will be redirected to its position trailing Earth. 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.

Lunar swingbys will be used to place the observatories into their respective orbits, using the moon's gravity to redirect them to their appropriate orbits -- something the launch vehicle alone can't do. This is the first time lunar swingbys have been used to manipulate orbits of more than one spacecraft.

Each STEREO observatory is carrying 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 images, visit http://stereo.jhuapl.edu.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "Solar-Studying Spacecraft Successfully Launched." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061026095703.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. (2006, October 26). Solar-Studying Spacecraft Successfully Launched. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061026095703.htm
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "Solar-Studying Spacecraft Successfully Launched." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061026095703.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) Lunar Mission One is offering to send your digital memory (or even your DNA) to the moon to be stored for a billion years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) Serious accidents with two US commercial spacecraft within a week of each-other in October have re-ignited the debate over the place of private corporations in the exploration of space. Duration: 02:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lunar Mission One Could Send Your Hair to The Moon

Lunar Mission One Could Send Your Hair to The Moon

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) A British-led venture called Lunar Mission One plans to send a module to the moon with keepsakes from Earth. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) tells you how to get your photos and DNA onboard. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why A Russian Object Is Being Called A 'Satellite Killer'

Why A Russian Object Is Being Called A 'Satellite Killer'

Newsy (Nov. 18, 2014) An unidentified Russian spacecraft is getting some attention, with some saying it could be for research while others say it could be a weapon. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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