Space Science Reviews

, Volume 136, Issue 1–4, pp 5–16 | Cite as

The STEREO Mission: An Introduction

  • M. L. KaiserEmail author
  • T. A. Kucera
  • J. M. Davila
  • O. C. St. Cyr
  • M. Guhathakurta
  • E. Christian


The twin STEREO spacecraft were launched on October 26, 2006, at 00:52 UT from Kennedy Space Center aboard a Delta 7925 launch vehicle. After a series of highly eccentric Earth orbits with apogees beyond the moon, each spacecraft used close flybys of the moon to escape into orbits about the Sun near 1 AU. Once in heliospheric orbit, one spacecraft trails Earth while the other leads. As viewed from the Sun, the two spacecraft separate at approximately 44 to 45 degrees per year. The purposes of the STEREO Mission are to understand the causes and mechanisms of coronal mass ejection (CME) initiation and to follow the propagation of CMEs through the inner heliosphere to Earth. Researchers will use STEREO measurements to study the mechanisms and sites of energetic particle acceleration and to develop three-dimensional (3-D) time-dependent models of the magnetic topology, temperature, density and velocity of the solar wind between the Sun and Earth. To accomplish these goals, each STEREO spacecraft is equipped with an almost identical set of optical, radio and in situ particles and fields instruments provided by U.S. and European investigators. The SECCHI suite of instruments includes two white light coronagraphs, an extreme ultraviolet imager and two heliospheric white light imagers which track CMEs out to 1 AU. The IMPACT suite of instruments measures in situ solar wind electrons, energetic electrons, protons and heavier ions. IMPACT also includes a magnetometer to measure the in situ magnetic field strength and direction. The PLASTIC instrument measures the composition of heavy ions in the ambient plasma as well as protons and alpha particles. The S/WAVES instrument uses radio waves to track the location of CME-driven shocks and the 3-D topology of open field lines along which flow particles produced by solar flares. Each of the four instrument packages produce a small real-time stream of selected data for purposes of predicting space weather events at Earth. NOAA forecasters at the Space Environment Center and others will use these data in their space weather forecasting and their resultant products will be widely used throughout the world. In addition to the four instrument teams, there is substantial participation by modeling and theory oriented teams. All STEREO data are freely available through individual Web sites at the four Principal Investigator institutions as well as at the STEREO Science Center located at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


CME Solar Three-dimensional 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Kaiser
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. A. Kucera
    • 1
  • J. M. Davila
    • 1
  • O. C. St. Cyr
    • 1
  • M. Guhathakurta
    • 2
  • E. Christian
    • 2
  1. 1.NASA/Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbeltUSA
  2. 2.NASA HeadquartersWashingtonUSA

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