Real solar eclipse done and dusted, and coming soon, an artificial eclipse to predict geomagnetic solar storms - Hindustan Times
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Real solar eclipse done and dusted, and coming soon, an artificial eclipse to predict geomagnetic solar storms

Apr 17, 2024 12:53 AM IST

ESA is set to create an artificial solar eclipse with 2 spacecraft to study the Sun's corona and better predict geomagnetic solar storms

Millions of people had recently travelled from far to experience the total solar eclipse in the regions where it would be visible. The entire event was spellbinding with the Moon covering the Sun in its entirety and exposing its ghostly corona. However, that is gone and now, the European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to create an artificial solar eclipse and that too, very soon. All it needs are a couple of spacecraft that it is getting ready to launch and they will do the rest. And no, they are not some gigantic spacecraft, they are actually quite small, but the science behind them will make them pull off a very big job.

The European Space Agency (ESA) will create an artificial eclipse via these two satellites in order to better predict geomagnetic solar storms.
The European Space Agency (ESA) will create an artificial eclipse via these two satellites in order to better predict geomagnetic solar storms.

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The ESA will create an artificial eclipse via these two satellites in a bid to study the Sun’s corona and the wider impact it has on space weather. ESA has dubbed it as the "Proba-3" mission and it will be the first mission ever to try and create a man-made eclipse. Proba refers to ‘Project of Onboard Autonomy’.

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The mission is made up of two spacecraft - The Coronagraph spacecraft and the Occulter spacecraft. The idea is to place them in precise positions at a distance of 144 metres or so. The accuracy has to be at the millimetre level. The Occulter’s job is to block the Sun for the Coronograph to be able to study the corona. Occulter will cast a shadow over the Corograph, creating the perfect solar eclipse.

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The spacecraft will take photos that will be studied to glean further information about space weather and the creation of geomagnetic solar storms.

Euronews report said, “According to the agency, studying the solar corona may help scientists predict solar weather, such as geomagnetic solar storms that can affect satellites in orbit as well as communication networks and power grids on Earth.”

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Notably, the two satellites will be put into space by the Indian Space Research Agency's (ISRO) PSLV rockets. Both the spacecraft are currently being prepared in Belgium.

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