On Feb. 6th, NASA’s twin STEREO probes moved into position on opposite sides of the sun, and they are now beaming back uninterrupted images of the entire star—front and back.
“For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory,” says Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the STEREO science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC.
This is the first time that we have been able to see the front and back – so to speak – of the sun, allowing us to be able to monitor any potential solar eruptions that could cause havoc here on Earth. Now, if a sunspot emerges on the far side of the sun from Earth, we will be able to see it long before it rotates into the field of view of Earth-based solar monitoring stations.
“Farside active regions can no longer take us by surprise. Thanks to STEREO, we know they’re coming,” said Bill Murtagh, a senior forecaster at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.