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article imageWeird blue mass detected in front of the Sun

By Tim Sandle     Nov 23, 2016 in Science
Houston - NASA has reported an unusual phenomenon: a strange blue mass in front of the Sun. The object was detected by the Stereo satellites, and it appeared to pass across the face of the star.
The blue mass triggered a high-level of activity on social media (as The Daily Mail reports), leading to some serious and some not-so-serious (aliens!) theories as to why a blue mass was seen hovering in front of the yellow star.
As an example of the social media impact, UFOmania (“the truth is out there”) posted this video on their YouTube channel:
Upon further analysis the object turned out to be nothing of significance. Occasionally, according to NASA, the STEREO satellite camera sensors become overloaded, triggering image corruption. This is what appears to have happened.
NASA has posted that there was a glitch with the recording of the images of the Sun, and the space agency have also pointed out that the same event is likely to occur at some point in the future due to technological limitations.
With this, NASA states: “On rare occasions, the SECCHI image processor onboard STEREO becomes overloaded, and produces corrupted images”
The U.S. agency adds: “Generally, these take the form of images from one telescope processed as if they were from another telescope. Because the images from the Heliospheric Imager telescopes are built up from a large number of exposures added together, this sometimes results in "double exposures", where data from several telescopes appear in the same image.”
In other words the large, blue mass came from a camera malfunction.
STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is a solar observation mission. In 2006 NASA launched two identical spacecraft into orbits around the Sun. The orbits cause the craft to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth. This enables stereoscopic imaging of the Sun and solar phenomena, such as coronal mass ejections.
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