The European Space Agency (ESA) reported that the Solar Orbiter probe recorded an eruption from the Sun while approaching the star in February. Such eruptions can affect the operation of technical equipment on Earth.
The probe was sent into space in February 2020, and it is still in the cruise phase. Currently, Solar Orbiter has four instruments that operate almost permanently and collect data about the space environment. The other six instruments are being calibrated. The primary scientific mission should begin in November, when all ten instruments will work together.
On February 10, 2021, the spacecraft passed close to the Sun at a distance of 74.5 million kilometers from it (half the distance from the Earth to the Sun).
Then the orbiter recorded the first coronal mass ejections. The February flyby was unique because the spacecraft was behind the Sun as viewed from Earth, which affected the data transfer rate to scientists. Therefore, some of the data is still being analyzed.
Understanding coronal mass ejections is an important factor in predicting space weather. Particles from the Sun can lead to technical failures or harm astronauts. The more scientists learn about these eruptions, the better they will be able to track and predict solar activity.