The Sun it has been particularly active recently, and this weekend the Earth experienced the effects of a solar storm. The sun recently unleashed a coronal mass ejection (CME) on July 21 that has been traveling through the solar system and I think a minor geomagnetic storm when it reached Earth.
The Solar Ultraviolet Imager#SUVI) aboard @NOAA‘s #GOES16🛰️ saw a stormy Sun on July 21! You can see a #CoronalMassEjection just above the middle of the Sun near the end of this animation (arrow). @NWSSWPC says a G2 (moderate) geomagnetic storm is likely on July 23. pic.twitter.com/bOTt88kg6k
— NOAA Satellites – Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) July 22, 2022
This type of solar activity is unlikely to affect most people’s daily lives, but it can affect satellites and make auroras visible in farther parts of the world than is typical. These types of solar events are likely to become more frequent in the coming months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) due to the sun’s cycle of activity.
G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storming was observed at 0359/23 UTC. A G1 warning is in effect until 23/1800 UTC. pic.twitter.com/93MxPUoTHS
— NOAA Space Weather (@NWSSWPC) July 23, 2022
“The sun’s 11-year activity cycle is increasing again, which means that phenomena such as CMEs and solar flares are increasing in frequency,” write NOAA. “Depending on the size and trajectory of solar flares, potential effects in near-Earth space and Earth’s magnetosphere can cause geomagnetic storms, which can disrupt power utilities and communication and navigation systems. These storms can also cause radiation damage to orbiting satellites and the International Space Station.”
We now have a new instrument to observe such outbursts, in the form of NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite. Launched by NASA in March of this year, this weather observation satellite has already sent back stunning views of our planet taken using its Advanced Baseline Imager instrument. But it also has other instruments on board to observe the sun, including an X-ray and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) camera. This camera can observe the extremely high temperatures of the sun’s corona to see events like CMEs and solar flares.
NOAA recently shared the first images from GOES-18’s Solar Ultraviolet Imager, or SUVI, showing the sun in several extreme ultraviolet channels during a similar coronal mass ejection on July 10. You can see the CME more clearly in the lower right image, and if you head to the noAA websiteyou can also watch the video of the event.
GOES-18 is currently undergoing post-launch testing, including checking its instruments before they become fully operational. The satellite is expected to be ready for its operational role in early 2023.