IF there was ever any doubt about the shape of the Sun, there isnt any more - thanks to a groundbreaking project beaming 3D images of the star back to Earth. Its official: the Sun is a sphere, Nasa proclaimed Sunday as it unveiled the images which for the first time show the sun from every angle. But the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Stereo) project is about more than just providing pretty pictures. Experts hope it will help them better predict the weather in space and its impact on other space missions, and how it affects life on Earth. In the past, scientists have been limited to viewing the Sun from only the one side which could been seen from this planet. But now, special cameras sent into space to orbit the sun have beamed back images allowing experts to piece together a fully rounded image. It was made possible for the first time yesterday after the cameras, launched in 2006, arrived in the right position, each filming half of the sun. Angelos Vourlidas, a member of the Stereo science team at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, said: For the first time ever, we can watch solar activity in its full three-dimensional glory. This is a big moment in solar physics. Stereo has revealed the sun as it really is - a sphere of hot plasma and intricately woven magnetic fields. The cameras sent to film the sun do not simply provide normal pictures, but pick up extreme ultraviolet radiation to trace solar activity on the star such as active sun spots which can spit out flares and clouds of plasma. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) - billion tonne clouds of plasma ejected from the sun - can affect power networks back on Earth, as well as knock out satellites and affect positioning systems used by airlines. This kind of activity can also affect space missions, putting spacecraft at risk. Previously an active sunspot could emerge on the far side of the sun hidden from Earth, only becoming apparent when it rotated towards the planet, sending out its flares and clouds of plasma. But now, with the Stereo cameras, scientists can help predict this type of activity because they can see what is happening on the other side of the sun. Bill Murtagh, a senior forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Centre in Boulder, Colorado, said: Farside active regions can no longer take us by surprise Thanks to Stereo, we know theyre coming. The NOAA is already using 3D Stereo models of CMEs to improve space weather forecasts for airlines, power companies, satellite operators and others. SM