London (Jagran News Network): Seeing the whole Sun from the front and back is now possible and how. Creating history of sorts, a NASA- led mission has released first ever 3D images of the Sun’s entire surface and atmosphere.

Scientists, including those from Britain's Rutherford Appleton Lab in Oxfordshire, believe the photos are as significant as those taken of the first men on the Moon and the first ever images of our planet from outer space.

The Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission, led by the US' space agency NASA, launched the two satellites in 2006 and they have been orbiting the Sun ever since, according to a NASA statement.

The satellites are travelling at different speeds and so every few years they achieve 180 degrees of separation on exactly opposite sides of the sun.

Chris Davis, project scientist for UK research, said: "The STEREO mission has already shown us some wonderful sights, solar eruptions arriving at the Earth to comets struggling against the solar wind.

"I'm very excited about this new stage of the mission and am looking forward to many years of unique observations," he added.

These views are the result of observations by NASA's two Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft. The duo is on diametrically opposite sides of the Sun, 180 degrees apart. One is ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind.

Launched in October 2006, STEREO traces the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth. It also provides unique and revolutionary views of the Sun-Earth system. The mission observed the Sun in 3-D for the first time in 2007. In 2009, the twin spacecraft revealed the 3-D structure of coronal mass ejections which are violent eruptions of matter from the sun that can disrupt communications, navigation, satellites and power grids on Earth.

STEREO is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program within the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the mission, instruments and science center.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., designed and built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations.

The STEREO imaging and particle detecting instruments were designed and built by scientific institutions in the US, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland.

3D Sun on iPhone

Imagine viewing the 3D Sun in the palm of your hand!

A new iPhone app developed by NASA-supported programmers delivers a live global view of the Sun directly to your cell phone. Users can fly around the star, zoom in on active regions, and monitor solar activity.

"This is more than cool," says Dick Fisher, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division in Washington DC. "It's transformative. For the first time ever, we can monitor the sun as a living, breathing 3-dimensional sphere."

Indeed, many users say that's their favorite part -- the alerts. The app comes alive on its own when the Sun grows active or when interesting events are afoot. For example, a recent alert notified users that a comet just discovered by STEREO-A was approaching the sun. When the comet was destroyed by solar heating, the app played a movie of Comet STEREO's last hours.