WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- NASA says its upcoming Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory mission, to be launched from Florida, will improve the understanding of solar eruptions.
The mission comprises two nearly identical spacecraft the size of golf carts, which are scheduled to launch Aug. 31 aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA says the satellites' observations will enable scientists to construct the first three-dimensional views of the sun -- data vital for understanding how the sun creates space weather.
"In terms of space-weather forecasting, we're where weather forecasters were in the 1950s," said Michael Kaiser, STEREO project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "They didn't see hurricanes until the rain clouds were right above them. In our case, we can see storms leaving the sun, but we have to make guesses and use models to figure out if and when they will impact Earth."
STEREO is the first NASA mission to use separate lunar swing bys to place two observatories into vastly different orbits around the sun.