It’s been about 150 years since the largest known coronal mass ejection (CME)–the ejection of millions of tons of plasma from the sun into space at a speed of 300 kilometers per second. On average, CMEs occur every 100 to 200 years, which means the next big event is inevitable. While it won’t threaten life on earth, it will put every satellite system at risk and threaten the safety of astronauts in space.
As the head of space weather at the European Space Agency, Jussi Luntama discusses the 2018 Lagrange mission that aims to monitor solar activity and more accurately predict the presence and direction of a coming CME. The team working on the ESA Lagrange mission will park a spacecraft at Lagrange points, which are points where the gravitational pull of the sun and earth balance each other out. This will cause the spacecraft to trail the earth’s orbit at a distance of 150 million kilometers for eternity or until intentionally moved, and will allow them to view solar activity from a perspective that’s different from the one they have when looking at the sun from the earth.
Tune in to hear Jussi Luntama discuss a variety of interesting topics, including the relationship between CMEs and periods of high and low solar activity, the effects of CMEs on power grids, and the launch of the Lagrange spacecraft planned to happen between 2023 and early 2025. To learn more, simply type “Where no mission has gone before” into a Google search engine.