Imagine being able to see in 3-D solar prominences looping out into space for thousands of miles. Now picture a billion megaton blast of solar plasma flying toward Earth and the effect it would have on astronauts, satellites in orbit, airplanes, and power grids. The Image left is a close up of loops in a magnetic active region. These loops are at a million degrees c.
The upcoming Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission will help provide the big picture by using two nearly identical spacecraft to image the Sun and track its activity in high definition 3-D, especially of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the most powerful explosions in the solar system, which can pack the force of a billion megaton nuclear bombs.
As NASA gears up to send astronauts to the Moon and beyond, we're going to need a better understanding of the dangerous solar particles accelerated by shock waves from CMEs. One of the biggest mysteries confronting scientists: why does one CME produce a major storm and another one does not? Don't miss this dazzling NASA video. Posted by Casey Kazan. Read more Story Link.