NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Solar Orbiter Sun probe back in early 2020, and now the probe has returned its first video of a coronal mass ejection.
So, what is a coronal mass ejection or CME? A coronal mass ejection is when the Sun shoots out a burst of energetic solar mass from its surface. These CME send geomagnetic shockwaves all across the solar system, and when a CME crashes into Earth, it can cause disruptions in radio signals, satellite usage, and even knock out power grids.
Using its Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imager instrument, the Solar Orbiter was able to capture its first video of a coronal mass ejection back in February. Due to the Solar Orbiter coming out from behind the Sun and reentering line of sight with Earth, the orbiter was able to send back the footage for NASA. Researchers didn't expect the Solar Orbiter to send back any images or video at this point as its primary mission doesn't begin until November this year. NASA has called this situation a "happy accident".
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