Thursday, February 18, 2010

NASA fetches the Dark Side of the Sun to Your iPhone

As the sun reawakens from an anomalously calm period, keep track of solar flares, sunspots and coronal mass ejections with a new iPhone app that puts the real-time status of the sun in your hand. This is over cool, Dick Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, said in a press release. For the first time ever, we can observe the sun as a living, breathing 3-dimensional sphere.

With the free 3D Sun app, you can set your phone to attentive you when a new solar flare erupts; watch video of a solar prominence or a comet heading into the sun. You can influence an image of the sun in three-dimensions with your finger.

The data is streamed to Earth by NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft which monitor the sun from two different spots, one ahead of Earth in its orbit and one after, giving stereoscopic images to give a sort of three-dimensional view, comparable to the way our two eyes do.

The pair covers 87 percent of the sun’s surface, efficiently giving us a view of the “dark side” of the sun. This means anyone can see on their phone parts of the sun that even the most influential telescopes on Earth can’t see.

The STEREO spacecraft watch the tremendous ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum because the most exciting solar phenomena show up best at these wavelengths. That’s why the 3D sun seems false-color green, said STEREO program scientist Lika Guhathakurta in a press release. These are not white-light imagery.

The team plans to release 3D Sun 2.0 which will have higher-res images and data from other wavelengths.

This is the second free iPhone app NASA has unconfined recently. NASA’s first app fetch you load of space photos from the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA missions, videos from NASA TV of science updates, mission activity, rocket launches and other events, mission status updates and live countdowns clocks and you can track the International Space Station as well.

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