Belgium and STEREO
posted: Feb 14, 2011

Since Feb 2011 the two STEREO spacecraft can see the entire Sun : a full 360░ view. Both spacecraft fly diametrical with the Sun in the middle, both spacecraft having a perfect side-view.

STEREO monitors continuously the Sun. STEREO produces EUV solar images and watches the space around the Sun.
The EUV-technology is based on a concept used in an earlier space mission SOHO/EIT. The Royal Observatory of Belgium, ROB came up with the idea and the Centre Spatial de LiŔge, CSL built the EUV-telescope.
STEREO is capable of following plasma that the Sun has ejected on its trajectory through space, up to a distance Sun-Earth. These plasma clouds threaten Earth, our satellites and our earth-space based technological systems. Scientists of the ROB use this STEREO view to visualize the clouds in 3D. A Belgian ESA satellite, PROBA2 is used as the third eye. PROBA2 has a front view of the Sun. Thanks to this multi-view, scientist can determine accurate the structure and speed of those clouds.

Space Weather forecast in Belgium
The software CACTus, developed at the ROB, automatically detects plasma clouds in the STEREO images. The results of the computer program are interpreted by the space weather forecaster of the ROB. Every day, they send a space weather bulletin. This bulletin describes the conditions in space and gives a prediction for the coming days. Who is interested in such a bulletin?: international companies specialized in space technology, like satellite operators, companies whose performances or services are based on radio-communication, like in airplanes, planes and crew are also vulnerable to space weather, the navigation technology like the American GPS and the European system Galileo is sensitive to the conditions in space, ;.. Meanwhile, there is a worldwide network of space weather forecast centers of which Belgium is an important node thanks to its advances scientific research based on satellite data like for example STEREO.

To the STEREO-website at NASA

The Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence a Belgian answer to threats of space
The space weather segment of the ROB makes part of the Solar-Terrestrial Centre of excellence, STCE. The STCE is an institute that bundles the Sun-Space-Earth sciences of the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, BIRA-IASB, the Royal Meteorological Institute, RMI and the Royal Observatory of Belgium, ROB. Apart from scientific research, the STCE couples a series of services, e.g. the Regional Warning Centre, this is the Belgian Space Weather Forecast Centre.
The STCE is the Belgian answer on the new challenges on the Sun, in space influencing our Earth, the Earth atmosphere and our advanced technology. in de ruimte die onze Aarde be´nvloeden.