“Gather around,” Orak said, handing each of his friends a binocular, “We have gone back in time. It’s August 12 and we will be watching STEREO-A fly-by Earth! It’s been 17 years since STEREO-A and its companion STEREO-B were sent to space. Excited?” Orak said as he smiled from ear to ear.
“Nope. We will be able to share your excitement if you tell us in detail about STEREO-A. What you said is zilch information,” retorted Scorch, who was cranky as Orak dragged her while she was almost asleep.
“Okay, so here we go,” Orak said and began explaining, “STEREO is a short form for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory. The United States (US) space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched two spacecraft, STEREO-A and STEREO-B in 2006 to study the Sun. Humans always had only one side view of the Sun. Scientists wanted to get a full view and so they sent two spacecraft. STEREO-A would be ahead of Earth and observe one-half of the Sun. STEREO-B would be tailing behind Earth and observe the other half of the Sun. This would give scientists a 360-degree view and help them study the hero star of our solar system better.
STEREO-A was designed to last only for two years, but it still kept going. It outlived its mission lifespan and travelled further and further away from Earth. In 2015, it drifted away, went behind the Sun and lost contact with NASA. The same year, NASA also lost contact with its STEREO-B.
NASA lost all hopes of finding them, let alone reviving them. But in a pleasant surprise, STEREO-A kept moving ahead on its path and eventually, made its way, closer to Earth.
NASA was delighted to see that the now ‘teen’ STEREO-A was going to pass between Earth and the Sun on August 12.
We are here to see the adventurous and courageous STEREO-A pass by Earth for the first time after 17 years around the Sun. That’s why I turned back time to witness this lovely moment.”
“Oh, my MysticLord! Even after two decades, it is roaming the space happily and that is amazing! What did this spacecraft do in all these years away from Earth?” Felix hopped.
“The twin spacecraft gave humans full images of the Sun. It also studied the Sun and the material it ejects in great detail. It did groundbreaking research for humans to study the hot star of our solar system in a more advanced way. NASA is hopeful to put STEREO-A to good use even now, thanks to its other satellites,” Orak acknowledged.
“Let’s look at the beautiful spacecraft now,” Scorch said, setting up the binoculars.