NASA and ESA capture twin solar eruptions in incredible detail for 1st time in proof-of-concept for early warning system
Using a variety of probes including the new Solar Orbiter, NASA and the ESA have captured multiple solar eruptions, made up of billions of tons of plasma, in unprecedented detail.
NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Solar Orbiter probe in February 2020 and it made its first close approach to the Sun on February 10, 2021, reaching a distance of 48 million miles (77 million kilometers) or halfway between our planet and our sun.
During its flyby, the orbiter successfully captured two solar eruptions or Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) using its three different imaging systems.
One recorded the Sun itself, while a second recorded the transfer of energy through the Sun’s outer atmosphere or corona, and a third captured the electrically charged particles, dust and cosmic rays which were launched outwards into space.
CMEs can often result in massive solar storms consisting of electrically charged particles which bombard Earth and even disrupt communications satellites and navigation systems.
A CME knocked out power in Quebec in 1989, while two other solar storms cut off radio communications for a period of 11 hours right after Hurricane Irma in 2017, so understanding this solar phenomenon has real-world consequences here on Earth.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Sun, the ESA’s PROBA-2 satellite and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHA) captured the same two CMEs from a different perspective.
The PROBA-2 images are shown on the left and SOHO’s video capture of the Sun’s plasma discharge features on the right of the video below.
NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory also captured the eruptions, with the Sun blocked out in the video to more clearly display the solar explosions themselves without interference.
The Sun is currently entering a new 11-year solar cycle, with eruptions, flares and resultant solar storms expected to increase in both frequency and intensity as a result, making these kinds of observations more important than ever for life here on Earth and in orbit.
The Solar Orbiter will fly closer to the Sun over the next six years than any other manmade probe ever has before in order to image the solar poles. It will also match the Sun’s rotation, hovering over specific spots for prolonged periods of time, affording further insights into our star.Also on rt.com LISTEN: The sound of Earth being lashed by solar storm will haunt your nightmares
NASA and the ESA will now effectively be able to monitor solar flares and eruptions from their source until they reach our planet, which will hopefully allow space agencies and world governments to coordinate efforts to mitigate the threat posed by solar storms in years to come.
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