From dawn to dusk, to the studies of Copernicus, our civilization has always revolved around the Sun. In the case of NASA’s STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) mission, the Sun was the focus of examination for years. The mission helped scientists greatly increase their current understanding of the Sun. The two STEREO crafts launched in Florida at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on October 26, 2006. The initial mission was planned for two years but continued for just over 12 years.

            Lenox Laser’s involvement assisted in STEREO capturing images of the sun in three dimensions. Lenox Laser provided consultation and fabricated custom parts to help guide focus testing on STEREO’s instruments at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Not only did Lenox Laser play a crucial part of NASA’s major successes for the mission, it also garnered a NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Instrument Systems and Technology Division 2006 Contractor Team Spirit Award. This is an honor that Lenox Laser still regards highly today. The fascination with space never ceases to amaze or inspire, Lenox Laser hopes to continue to do so for many years to come.

NASA rendering of the two STEREO satellites and the Sun.

            The STEREO mission examined the Sun’s particles and compositions, as well as its damaging solar windstorms. It also discovered that the strength of the Sun’s magnetic field became weaker the further into the heated atmosphere scientists observed. They were able to study the edge of the sun to see how solar winds originated. Coronal mass ejections were also studied. CME’s are powerful solar options that can block the 10 billion tons of the Sun’s atmosphere into interplanetary space. They can travel almost 1 million miles per hour. 3-D images of the sun were beamed back to NASA to help them understand the measurement of the Sun’s heat, solar flares, and the overall composition and environment. On February 6, 2011, the Sun could be seen in full. This was due to the space-crafts being 180° apart. Last established contact with the STEREO mission crafts was in 2016.

May the light of the sun fill the Earth for decades and may beams of new discoveries never be extinguished. We hope that you will join Lenox Laser again for more exciting journeys of space travel next week.

NASA Series: Galileo
NASA Series: Messenger