EUROPE: A strong coronal mass ejection from the Sun has just been observed by the Solar Orbiter of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Charged particles are ejected from the sun’s corona, or upper atmosphere, in coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. They are some of the most powerful solar storms.
After the CME ejection, early on September 4, the solar material cloud began to drift in the direction of the Solar Orbiter. The orbiter was on its way to Venus, where it would make a crucial flyby, at the time.
The Solar Orbiter occasionally alters its orbit by passing past Venus, according to the ESA, in a “gravity-assist manoeuvre.”
Its orbit was chosen to be in close resonance with Venus, which allows it to periodically return to the planet’s neighbourhood and utilise its gravity to tilt or change its orbit.
Fortunately, the spacecraft did not experience any damage because it is built to “withstand and measure powerful eruptions from our star,” according to the ESA.
According to Jose-Luis Pellon-Bailon, Solar Orbiter Operations Manager, “The close approach proceeded exactly as planned, owing to a great lot of planning from our colleagues in Flight Dynamics and the meticulous care of the Flight Control Team.”
Venus was not immune to the damage caused by solar storms, the space agency did note. According to the ESA, coronal mass ejections “tend to deteriorate Venus’ atmosphere, sucking away gases as they whoosh by.”
In 2020, the European Space Agency launched the Solar Orbiter to observe the Sun. The Orbiter’s decade-long mission to observe the Sun is currently 25% complete. The goal of the equipment is to observe and understand its enigmatic poles.
The Solar Orbiter passed 12,500 kilometres from the planet’s centre on Sunday at 01:26 UTC, according to the ESA. This was Venus’ third flyby by the Solar Orbiter.
Half of Earth’s width, or around 3728 miles, separates it from its gaseous “surface.”