The new ESA mission will give us precious hours before the sunstorm

The storm in Carrington is perhaps the mostfamous event in the history of space weather. The powerful solar storm that hit the Earth in 1859 caused such great geomagnetic activity that the northern lights could be seen even in the south, right up to Cuba. Telegraph operators reported sparks flying out of equipment. It would seem no big deal. But if something like this happened today, the city centers would remain unarmed: the networks would rise, the GPS would turn off, and the satellites would be under threat.

Storms like this happen once every 100 or 200 years, but if such a storm is coming, it would be better for us to know about it in advance.

Is it possible to predict the occurrence of a solar storm?

Space weather analysis is to searchwarnings of such catastrophic events (and smaller, but more frequent solar flares) in the process of observing the solar wind, coronal mass ejections (when the sun ejects plasma from its corona, disturbing magnetic fields) and other phenomena. Forecasts can predict when auroras illuminate the sky, but more importantly, they can warn of an impending catastrophic event.

We are currently receiving a warning fora few days or hours. The main reason for this is that we don’t have a good view of the entire sun, so we don’t see anything dangerous forming on its backside. The planned mission of the European Space Agency could change this by allowing us to look at the Sun from the side and add a vital resource to the arsenal of solar weather forecasters. Scientists are trying to quickly launch the Lagrange mission (“Lagrange”) before our other methods for determining dangerous sunny weather cease to function.

Until now, most of the spaceMeteorological missions were carried out either in Earth orbit, or at the Lagrange point L1, which is located between the Earth and the Sun. Lagrange points are places in space where the object will maintain the same position relative to two bodies that are in orbit around each other. For example, an object at point L1 will remain directly in front of the Earth, providing a continuous view of the sun at any time. This makes it perfect for scientific missions that will need to spend less energy to stay in place for data collection and, in particular, for satellites observing the sun.

But this gives us a view of only one side of the star. The mission of the European Space Agency Lagrange will take advantage of the Lagrange Point 5 to provide us with a new perspective. L5 is approximately in the same astronomical unit from Earth (distance to the sun, approximately 150 million kilometers), but away from the planet. “This is the first spacecraft that really plans to stay in L5 and constantly transmit data,” says ESA L1 / L5 research manager for ESA mission. Devices STEREO NASA briefly visited these points in 2009, but stopping requires much more fuel.

This side view would provide ESA scientistsa constant view of the surface of the Sun as it rotates (the sun turns about once every 27 days), providing them with earlier and accurate warnings of the possible approach of dangerous space weather.

Pairing data with L1 and L5 will help reducetime alert. At present, the effect of coronal mass ejection on the Earth can be predicted only to within 6-12 hours. According to ESA, the Lagrange mission will shorten this time to a few hours. For you to understand, the fastest emissions reach the Earth in 15-18 hours.

To shoot the sun in extreme weatherconditions, the device will use artificial intelligence for recognition and frame-by-frame removal of charged particles, which create a kind of “snow” on the images.

The mission is still in its early stages. The team is currently developing a technical plan and a proposal that will be submitted to ESA in November. Scientists study how reliable the systems should be and how to protect the device under financial constraints. If everything goes according to plan, the launch will take place in 2025.

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