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Powerful eruptions on the sun filmed for the first time
17 May 2021, 17:24
The Solar Orbiter spacecraft has recorded the first ever footage of powerful eruptions on the sun.
These events, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are eruptions near the sun’s surface that blast out into the solar system, and have the potential to trigger space weather events that can interfere with satellites and power grids on Earth.
Chris Castelli, director of programmes at the UK Space Agency, said: "Coronal Mass Ejections can cause Geomagnetic Storms on Earth, which can disrupt power grids and the satellites we rely on for things like navigation and telephone communications.
"Tracking their progress will provide new insight into how the Sun affects space weather and its impact on our daily lives.
Speaking of #CMEs, the first @ESASolarOrbiter movies showing #CMEs, or coronal mass ejections, including during the spacecraft's February perihelion pass, released today 👉 https://t.co/jYBGMZx3bJ #WeAreAllSolarOrbiters pic.twitter.com/JoQtsBCbu9— ESA (@esa) May 17, 2021
"UK specialists are playing a leading role in one of the most important space science missions of our generation through our membership of the European Space Agency."
When the event happened, the Solar Orbiter was almost twice as close to the sun as the Earth is.
The footage was captured on February 10, but because the spacecraft was on the other side of the sun from Earth, it took over three months for the data to be downloaded and analysed.