NASA’s Parker Solar Probe He added a new milestone to his already impressive list of achievements: survived a massive solar flare, Called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).
This event – it happened in September 2022 and according to NASA, It was “one of the most powerful solar flares ever recorded.”– provided scientists with unprecedented insight into solar events that have the potential to wreak havoc on Earth’s technological infrastructure.
Explained in an article by Mashable, The probe observed the CME for about two days, making it the first spacecraft to fly by a solar flare this close to the Sun. The probe is equipped with a rugged thermal shield that allows it to withstand intense bursts of radiation, making it an invaluable tool for studying solar behavior.
Parker study It came within about 9.2 million kilometers of the Sun’s surface, much closer than Mercury reached in its orbit around the Sun. A recently published study noted that The Astrophysical Journal. The outflows from the Sun eject billions of tons of charged particles at speeds of 100 to 3,000 km/s. As these particles head toward Earth, they disrupt the planet’s magnetic field, creating spectacular auroras and destroying satellite electronics and ground-based power grids.
Scientists say the potential damage from a CME of this size could be enormous. A similar event in 1989 affected millions of people in Quebec, Canada. The information collected through Parker’s survey can To help researchers predict the impact of future CMEs on Earth, Allows countries or regions to take preventive measures, such as temporarily shutting down the power grid.
Parker Solar Probe’s mission is far from over. In 2024, the spacecraft is expected to reach a speed of 690,000 km/h as it approaches within 6.2 million kilometers of the Sun.
Also, scientists are working Understand how the event happened Comparing measurements collected by the study within the CME with measurements collected outside of it. “Simplified models try to explain some aspects of the phenomenon, but when you’re so close to the Sun, none of these models can explain everything,” explained study lead author Orlando Romeo of the University of California, Berkeley. “We still don’t know exactly what’s going on there or how to connect it,” Romeo added.
As the probe continues its mission, scientists hope to obtain more data that will help reduce the risks associated with extreme space weather.
Experts expect the probe could record a number of large coronal mass ejections as the Sun nears its point of highest activity in 2025, an event expected to occur 11 years into its regular cycle. The probe’s next close flyby of the Sun is scheduled for September 27.