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NASA Releases First 3D Images of the Sun

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the break-out-the-glasses dept.

NASA 80

mvar writes "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. NASA released a 'first light' 3D movie on, naturally, Super Bowl Sunday."

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You missed the real headline (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35126754)

February 6, 2011: It's official: The sun is a sphere.

Re:You missed the real headline (2)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126852)

Actually, my guess is it will be an oblate spheroid.

Flat sun (2)

grimJester (890090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126870)

Anyone can see the sun is a circle. Teach the controversy!

Re:Flat sun (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128870)

Circle goes up, circle goes down. Never a miscommunication.

I was always taught not to look at the sun... (2)

zcomuto (1700174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126778)

even through glasses, but are we allowed to look at the sun through 3D glasses?

Re:I was always taught not to look at the sun... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127444)

...but momma, that's where the fun is.

Re:I was always taught not to look at the sun... (5, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127556)

My eyes! The 3D glasses, they do nothing!

Re:I was always taught not to look at the sun... (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127848)

That post makes your name ironic. Not an onlooker anymore are you?

Re:I was always taught not to look at the sun... (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127732)

Some of the 3d glasses I've tried block almost enough light to allow this.

Re:I was always taught not to look at the sun... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35133414)

If you use good cyan and yellow glasses, you'll burn be left with just red and blue receptors left in your retinas. This will allow you to look at red-blue 3D images without the glasses!

Not first in 3D, by a long shot (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126810)

STEREO, as the name suggests, has been broadcasting 3D images of the sun since it launched many, many years ago. the satellites had slightly (and increasingly) different viewpoints, which could then be combined to give a binocular view of the sun. The long-term mission was to put the satellites at opposite sides of the sun for continuous coverage of the surface, a position in which they cannot generate 3D images of it because their perspectives are completely exclusive. That is what has been achieved.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126854)

(I should say anything above the limb of the sun to one satellite is above the limb to the other satellite as well, and can be viewed stereoscopically. They're only mutually exclusive for the sun itself.)

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127096)

I fail to see the difference. Anything above the limb of the sun will be imaged from opposite sides too.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126958)

Stereoscopy (!="3D") isn't particularly attractive for such, quite "smooth" for the distances involved, almost-sphere anyway...

But what they now achieved is very much 3D - we can have a decent, current 3D model of whole Sun (well, polar regions most likely suffer major loss of detail, as well as lowest latitudes which aren't at any given point in "head on" view)

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126992)

Typical stereoscopy (!="3D") doesn't seem particularly attractive for such quite smooth almost-sphere, anyway...

But what we have now is very much a 3D model of current state of the whole Sun (well, polar regions probably suffer major loss of detail, as well as more equatorial regions which are at a given moment viewed from very acute angles)

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127384)

(apologies for, essentially, double posting; after the 2nd, above, it turned out it wasn't my failure, but some hiccup of the discussion system...)

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127184)

STEREO, as the name suggests, has been broadcasting 3D images of the sun since it launched many, many years ago. the satellites had slightly (and increasingly) different viewpoints, which could then be combined to give a binocular view of the sun. The long-term mission was to put the satellites at opposite sides of the sun for continuous coverage of the surface, a position in which they cannot generate 3D images of it because their perspectives are completely exclusive. That is what has been achieved.

What's absolutely certain is that niggers in Africa didn't invent anything like this and never will. I think they're still exploring the Iron Age over there in primitiveniggerland.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127228)

4 years, 3 months, and 12 days is a little shy of what I would term "many, many years."

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129592)

But we're talking about intrastellar distances here so... oh wait.... ;)

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

flex941 (521675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127262)

It's pretty obvious from released material that there should be at least 3 satellites orbiting...

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

JustASlashDotGuy (905444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128768)

It's pretty obvious from released material that there should be at least 3 satellites orbiting...

The 3rd "satellite" is Earth.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

flex941 (521675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35135620)

Well, it's not as well positioned as the other two. They should do something about it.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

forand (530402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127454)

I think you are missing a key adjective in your reading of the quote.

For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full 3-dimensional glory

Emphasis mine. Previous 3-D images did not contain the full surface of the Sun as the two probes would have to be on opposite sides of the Sun to achieve such. They are now and thus there is no missing portion of the surface of the Sun. The page name also says it all:

First Ever STEREO Images of Entire Sun

I would also point out that the second link makes it clear that:

The mission observed the sun in 3-D for the first time in 2007.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129364)

So has the sun, as it turns out. Also, for a bit longer I think.

Re:Not first in 3D, by a long shot (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131628)

...which means that we now have a 3D model of the sun at any point in time for as long as these probes have been opposite each other. You can now in theory load this model into Blender or Celestia and view the sun from any angle, not just from two fixed viewpoints. Hell, you could build one out of papier mache if you wanted.

This is true 3D, as opposed to stereoscopic (think 3D films) which was all we had when the probes were close together, and so far as I know the first time this has been done.

NASA sued by thousands of schoolchildren (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35126822)

Thousands of schoolchildren are now blind, after looking at the sun to see how realistic the "3D" really was.

Not so Magic Eye (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35126886)

I keep trying to cross my eyes, but I still don't see it.

The sun is scary. (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126896)

Especially since, in 4 billion years, it will turn the planet into a crisp ember. Of course humans will probably have moved-on by then, but in 50 billion years ALL the stars will have burnt-out to dying red embers.

Then what do we do? "This..... all of this was for nothing." - sinclair, B5

Re:The sun is scary. (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126950)

That's not exactly true. [wikipedia.org]

Re:The sun is scary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127170)

There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer.

Re:The sun is scary. (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127190)

50 billion years ALL the stars will have burnt-out to dying red embers.

Then what do we do?

I guess that is best a problem that we leave to future generations to solve. I ain't certainly going to be around to worry about it. Kinda sorta like that nuclear waste that the US is doing with the nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. If the folks haven't learned in 50 billion years from how to deal with this stuff . . . well then, fuck 'em. Lazy bastards. Maybe the great-great-recursion-needed grandson of Steven Hawking will figure a way to light up a new sun.

That sure makes a great family heirloom:

Guy one: "What did you inherit from your forefathers?

Guy two: "A pile of nuclear waste, and a bunch of burnt-out stars."

Re:The sun is scary. (1)

Wolvenhaven (1521217) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127224)

Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?
Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Re:The sun is scary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127896)

Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Pretty unlikely mankind will exist in a recognizable form by the time the sun exhausts itself. As for massively decreasing universal entropy, I would suppose that once the rest of the universe also exhausts itself, that should dramatically reduce any further entropy on its own (it'll have maxed out). Of course, if that actually occurs, the universe will become a very cold, dark place indeed (relatively, from a human perspective; compared to it's own, it might be actually rather warm, unless heat can escape the universe, somehow). On the other hand, if the universe isn't static at that point, and actually manages to collapse in upon itself, then it kind of tosses our assumptions about entropy measurements aside. At the very least, it'd require a rethink of entropy as a one-way process, I am guessing. I'm not a cosmologist, so it's pretty likely I have misunderstood something basic.

Re:The sun is scary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128214)

Pardon the double post, but I figured I should mention, that the above makes the assumption of a closed universe model, or at least, a universe that "breathes". An open universe that's continuously expanding doesn't have quite the same constraints, obviously. Personally, I am not particularly enamored of an open universe model, something seems basically broken about it, in my opinion. A universe that expands, and then contracts, only to expand again seems more likely, to me, and has a nice sense of completeness about it. It is only my opinion, however, and the universe is probably quite a bit more complicated than any simple model can address.

Re:The sun is scary. (1)

Wolvenhaven (1521217) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149724)

It's a quote from The Last Question written by Asimov.

Re:The sun is scary. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127368)

Especially since, in 4 billion years, it will turn the planet into a crisp ember. Of course humans will probably have moved-on by then, but in 50 billion years ALL the stars will have burnt-out to dying red embers.

Then what do we do? "This..... all of this was for nothing." - sinclair, B5

Way to add to my 30-year old crisis...

Re:The sun is scary. (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35136236)

>>>30-year old crisis...

Yeah. It's all pretty much pointless. Might as well say "frak it all" and go screw as many women as you can..... kinda like Assange does. ;-)

Does not compute (1, Offtopic)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126912)

Why is it natural for NASA to release a 3D image of the Sun on Super Bowl Sunday?

In related news, the Super Bowl hit a record high of eight accused sexual predators on the field at the same time.

Re:Does not compute (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126934)

Why is it natural for NASA to release a 3D image of the Sun on Super Bowl Sunday?

In related news, the Super Bowl hit a record high of eight accused sexual predators on the field at the same time.

Uh, because it's SuperBowl SUNday... duh..

You missed the whole rest of it... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127790)

(eyeroll)

Yeah, thanks, I got that bit.

But why SUPER BOWL Sunday in particular. You savvy?

Re:Does not compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127080)

To give people with intelligence greater than a potted plant something to watch?

Re:Does not compute (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127522)

In related news, the Super Bowl hit a record high of eight accused sexual predators on the field at the same time.

At least that explains why neither team brought cheerleaders...

Other than Rothlisberger, who were the other sexual predators?

It wasn't planned ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129888)

The press release was originally scheduled for Wednesday, so they'd have time to get the data down from the spacecraft, and generate the maps necessary for making the movies as if the camera were flying around the sun. Note at the bottom of the story:

http://geeked.gsfc.nasa.gov/?p=5147 [nasa.gov]

You'll be hearing much more about this from NASA and gogblog as we approach February 9.

Unfortunately, someone leaked to the press last week that the spacecraft would get 360 degree coverage, and so they moved up the press conference on Friday:

http://geeked.gsfc.nasa.gov/?p=5321 [nasa.gov]

NASA will release the new images at a press conference Sunday, Feb. 6, at 11 a.m. EST

Bucket of Cum == Kilogram (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127010)

Here's the deal: What they NEED to do is base the Kilogram on the weight of a bucket of cum.

DO look at 3D images of Sun... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127044)

...with remaining eye.

Re:DO look at 3D images of Sun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129138)

but... but... it's bit hard to get a sense of depth with just the one eye though. :(

2012 prevented! (2)

gsslay (807818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127138)

At long last Planet X can be revealed!

If we can see all the way around the sun, Planet X can never hide behind it again, or sneak out from behind it when we're asleep and crash into the Earth. Thanks NASA!

Alas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128310)

You will note that the two camera's are strictly pointed at the sun. NASA doesn't want anyone to see what's behind the sun. With good reason actually, as you guys are obviously not at all ready for the knowledge that awaits there.

Feasibility of satellites in North / South places? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127188)

How hard would it to get satellites seated above and below an object?

Since we tend to do things on a 2 dimensional plane when it comes to the solar system, the mention of 3D makes me wonder if it has been tried much, or if it is many times harder than it is easier, or cheaper, to stay in the standard plane of the solar system.

One reason i can think of is harder to get something seated because of gravity at the north and south poles of objects is a little wonky, at best.
Geosync is simple in comparison, but suffers the risk of being blasted by radiation due to no EM field protecting it. (less likely to get a N/S facing flare, if at all)
It would probably require much more maintenance to keep it in the same position.

If they were above and below, it could simplify communications between them, and it could lead to the start of a simpler deep space network since it just needs to look above or below, rather than hope the satellites orbiting are at the right area for receiving.
Of course, simpler in terms of sending and receiving, not setting it up initially, i expect.

Re:Feasibility of satellites in North / South plac (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127414)

How hard would it to get satellites seated above and below an object?

Very. You'd have to fight gravity with propulsion or they would fall into the object. A satellite has to orbit or it will fall into the planet.

You could get fancy and try to exploit another object's gravity and then occupy the Lagrangian points, but I can't think of a real-world example of where this would work at the poles.

If you used an extremely elliptical orbit, you could at least have a line-of-sight to a pole for a long period of time. Use two satellites and you could cover a pole full-time using an elliptical orbit.

Re:Feasibility of satellites in North / South plac (1)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127604)

Counterintuitive as it may be this is wrong. In order to 'fall' into the sun you have to slow down - remember that any object we launch already has earth's oribital velocity relative the sun. It takes more energy to reach Venus or (especially) Mercury than it takes to escape the solar system outright.

Re:Feasibility of satellites in North / South plac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129122)

Reading comprehension fail?

MightyYar talks of parking satellites over the solar poles, which would indeed involve slowing down, in fact stopping entirely. And then you'd need a continuous, if low, thrust to support you against solar gravity, or you would indeed fall into the sun.

Of course, the going solution for this is just to let the sun support you -- heliostats could offer a very sweet platform for solar observation, and (eventually) a comms link to things on the far side of the sun, e.g. Mars. Still requires a hard rocket burn or a long time "sailing" to lose the Earth/Sun delta-V.

Re:Feasibility of satellites in North / South plac (1)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127588)

Extremely. Ulyseuss had to use Jupiter's gravity to slingshot it into a solar-polar orbit. It takes a lot more energy to put an object in such an orbit than current rockets can provide on their own.

So what NASA has now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127206)

are 3-D pics of Larry Ellison?

NASA finds: (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127218)

That the sun is quite hot, and there are no aliens hiding behind it. Of course, they forgot to put cameras watching the cameras.

Pictures of the sun? (2)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127396)

Whose bright idea was this?

Re:Pictures of the sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137168)

As fusion goes -that would be the sun's energy

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35127404)

Its round!

When can I see it on... (1)

4wdloop (1031398) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127408)

...Google Maps?

Re:When can I see it on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35137824)

If you meant to say Google Earth (which you probably did) then hIVEMIND!

Another one hops on the bandwagon (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127486)

Avatar ignited a 3D movie craze, now everybody has to imitate James Cameron... even NASA! As for myself, I'll still be watching movies of the sun in 2D, thank you very much!

Re:Another one hops on the bandwagon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128012)

NASA was taking stereoscopic images decades before Jame Cameron.

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_11/photography/

So all this time... (1)

clem (5683) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127552)

The sun was a sphere, not a cylinder? Damn.

Re:So all this time... (1)

illumastorm (172101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127768)

Funny, I thought the sun was a giant ball of burning gas.

Re:So all this time... (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127928)

I think you'll find it's a miasma of incandescent plasma.

Re:So all this time... (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128282)

I think you'll find it's a miasma of incandescent plasma.

And here I always thought it was just a mass of incandescent gas [youtube.com] . :)

Re:So all this time... (1)

GCPSoft (1176501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35135834)

I always thought it was the end of the tunnel...

Great (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35127860)

Now we can start looking for good landing sites.

I'm sure that some internet company will have sold off all the good bits long before the first possible mission can get there, like they are doing with the stars, and all the good bits will have been recorded in a book to be stored in the Library of Congress (and no where else).

Re:Great (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128538)

Now we can start looking for good landing sites.

Make sure you go at night!

I dont need a 3d image. I stare at the sun all day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128010)

I don't need a 3d image of the sun because I stare at the real thing all day. Although I guess it is kind of cool because you can see the other side of the sun.

Or you could just wait 6 months.

Re:I dont need a 3d image. I stare at the sun all (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128584)

Or you could just wait 6 months.

No need for that. The Sun rotates on its axis just like the Earth does. The Sun's equator takes 24.5 days to rotate. At 26degrees North Latitude, where most of the sunspot activity takes place, the Sun rotates every 25.4 days. The difference is due to the Sun not being a solid body.

Shadows on the Sun (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128390)

According to the artist's rendition, we can expect the sun to be partially in shadow... ;-P

Re:Shadows on the Sun (1)

phlamb (1900314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129166)

Obviously because the cameras on the satellites have flashes.

Great, better pics of the Aliens! (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128542)

http://www.ufopicture.org/soho_ufo_pictures.html [ufopicture.org]

This was desperately needed because these pictures are crap.

Frankly, they look about as detailed as this: http://www.spaceshooter.com/games/screenshot.php?pid=34&shot=5 [spaceshooter.com]

Re:Great, better pics of the Aliens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35131298)

You missed the video footage [youtube.com] documenting this phenomena.

Chinese manned mission to the SUN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128666)

The Chinese have announced that they plan to go one further than the US and land a man on the sun,

When asked by the press how they would prevent the spacecraft and the person involved from melting
they answered: We have thought about that, We plan to do it at night.....

MEH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129184)

I'll wait for Google Sun

Yes, but when... (1)

odysseus_complex (79966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129634)

Yes, but when will they release pictures of the sun in Imax?

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