NASA launches world's first mission into mysterious radio signals from the Sun

NASA is launching a mission to investigate the mysterious radio signals that are detected following an ejection of solar matter from the Sun.

1 minute & 24 seconds read time

There are many mysteries about the universe, and some don't reside millions of light-years away; some are just within our solar system and involve our local star, the Sun.

One of the mysteries surrounding the Sun includes the decades-old discovery of radio waves that present themselves in solar flares and massive solar eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). The aforementioned solar activity is a key driver in space weather experienced on Earth, which can impact satellite communications and other forms of technology on Earth's surface.

So, to answer these questions, NASA has launched the CubeSat Radio Interferometry Experiment (CURIE), which took off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on July 9, 2024. The CURIE mission involves two spacecraft that together are no larger than a shoebox, and these spacecraft will orbit Earth at a distance of two miles apart. NASA explains the separation between the two satellites will enable researchers to measure the tiny differences in the arrival time of radio waves following solar activity.

CURIE team members work on integrating the satellites into the CubeSat deployer

CURIE team members work on integrating the satellites into the CubeSat deployer

"The spacecraft, designed by a team from UC Berkeley, will measure radio waves ranging 0.1 to 19 megahertz to pinpoint the radio waves' solar origin. These wavelengths are blocked by Earth's upper atmosphere, so this research can only be done from space," writes NASA

The space agency states being able to measure the small differences in arrival time will allow researchers to trace back exactly where the radio waves came from. The idea is to find exactly where the radio waves come from within a CME.

"This is a very ambitious and very exciting mission," said Principal Investigator David Sundkvist, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. "This is the first time that someone is ever flying a radio interferometer in space in a controlled way, and so it's a pathfinder for radio astronomy in general."

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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