High quality STEREO images now available

We are pleased to announce that the most recent, high quality STEREO images are now available on helioviewer.org.

The STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) mission is very different from the other missions (Solar Dynamics Observatory and SOHO) we feature on helioviewer.org.

First off, there are two spacecraft, called STEREO-A and STEREO-B. Both spacecraft orbit the Sun at roughly 1 AU (astronomical unit), or about as far away from Sun as the Earth is. However, STEREO-A is moving ahead of the Earth in its orbit, and STEREO-B is drifting behind the Earth in its orbit. This means that each STEREO spacecraft sees different parts of the Sun, parts that we can’t see from Earth. STEREO-B sees features on the Sun that we eventually see in SDO and SOHO, and STEREO-A allows us to see the continuing evolution of features that we did see in SDO and SOHO.

This plot shows where each spacecraft is now:

As you can see, they are quite far away from the Earth. This puts some operational constraints on each spacecraft that means we get high-quality images two days after they were taken. These are the data we are making available today; images from June 1st 2011, up to the most recently available data will be available initially. We ask for your patience, as we are uploading these images right now. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be making images from earlier in the mission available so that you can explore the Sun from many different angles over the past 4 1/2 years.

The benefit of seeing the Sun from many different angles is apparent when you look at the following three videos of the prominence eruption of June 7, 2011. The first one consists of images from SDO-AIA and SOHO-LASCO

We hope you enjoy these new images! As ever, please let us know if you spot any problems.

Did you like this? Share it:
  1. #1 by Loly on June 13, 2011 - 5:00 pm


    Because the difference

    For example now: The last image
    http://stereo.gsfc.nasa.gov/beacon/ is 2011 June 13 14:54 UTC

    And helioviewer: 2011 June 10 23:54 UTC??

  2. #2 by jack on June 13, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    STEREO sends back two types of data, beacon data and high-quality data. The beacon images are near real-time, but have a very low spatial resolution compared to the high-quality images we are making available today. We are also working on making the beacon data available so we will have near real-time views of other sides of the Sun. Hope this helps!

    • #3 by Andrew on June 13, 2011 - 8:33 pm

      Thanks for making this new data available, gives a nice new perspective on things.

      What kind of implementation are you thinking about for the beacon data? Are you going to have both the high quality and the beacon data available for the same date. Or will you have just the beacon data for the 2 day period, and the high quality data before this period. In my opinion it probably simplifies things to have the high quality images just overwrite the beacon data. However some people may wish to access this data.

      • #4 by jack on June 15, 2011 - 6:05 pm


        Thanks for your input. We have been having discussions exactly along the lines you suggest. We have yet to make a decision on how to present the beacon data given that much better data becomes available a couple of days later. It’s an interesting question: the beacon data is useful for telling us quickly what is going on, but has a quite low spatial resolution. The full resolution data has more information, but comes two days later. It is better to keep both easily available, or would that be confusing? Or would removing the old beacon data be even more confusing? We’re not sure yet what is the best strategy.


  3. #5 by Loly on June 14, 2011 - 1:49 pm


    Because there are no current images SDO AIA * today June 14
    the last is from yesterday at 22 utc ???


    • #6 by jack on June 15, 2011 - 5:54 pm

      We had a temporary glitch in the pipeline that brings images online. We restarted our processes; our AIA image stream should be back to our nominal status now. Thanks!

(will not be published)