NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has captured a massive flare erupting from the Sun, an eruption of 10 million degrees Fahrenheit that was powerful enough to interfere with GPS and many others.
Launching from the SlashGear page, SDO, which was launched in 2010, continues to monitor the Sun with a trio of instruments, track its energy output and magnetic field, and measure the impact of changes in the sun on Earth and other parts of the Solar System.
That’s because, while the Sun can provide heat and light, it is also capable of significantly disrupting things on Earth as well. Strong solar eruptions can cause waves of electromagnetic radiation that impact or even overwhelm GPS, telecommunications, and other satellites.
Figuring out how the sun’s atmosphere and magnetic fluctuations translate into those powerful waves has been an important part of the SDO mission. It is also capable of taking pictures of eruptions, such as the “significant” solar flare that NASA said was observed peaking at 10:29 am EDT on July 3, 2021.
Just as earthquakes are rated for their strength on the Richter scale, flares are classified according to the brightness of the X-ray wavelength. The most significant is class X; M class flares are medium in size, while C class flares are small. A number is added to indicate the relative strength in each classification.
The flare on July 3 was rated as class X1.5, NASA confirmed, the strongest since 2017. It was far from the most powerful ever observed — in 2003, for example, a class X28 solar flare was recorded, with a coronal mass eruption at around 5.1 million miles per hour though is still enough to cause problems for objects in orbit, and briefly interfere with radio.
Part of SDO’s mission, then, is to understand what caused the eruption and potentially develop more resilient systems to withstand the impact. Back in March 2021, the so-called “Rosetta Rock Eruption” was captured by SDO in conjunction with the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. That includes three types of solar eruptions that usually occur separately.
“This event is the missing link, where we can see all aspects of these different types of eruptions in one neat little package,” Emily Mason, lead author of the study on the eruption, and solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt said. , Maryland, explained. “This suggests that these eruptions were caused by the same mechanism, just at a different scale.”
This is important, because not only satellites are at risk, but also potential future crewed missions in the solar system. While Earth’s atmosphere provides a layer of protection for life on the ground, protecting people, animals, and plants beyond that barrier is much more difficult. Indeed, keeping astronauts safe for travel to Mars and beyond is one of the main concerns of NASA and other agencies when missions are planned.
While reducing solar activity is unlikely, the hope is a better understanding of how things like the shape of the coronal mass ejection (CME) will allow for more warning time. That way, astronauts and spacecraft can get valuable preparation time if a sizable CME is estimated. arn
Editor : Good Fit
Author : Aris N