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December 9: PROBA2 Eclipse Observations

     
  December 9: The Greatest Flare Observed by PROBA2  
  The Greatest Flare Observed by PROBA2  
 

 

Click on the above image for a movie of the flare

 

 
 

On the 6th of March 2012 the sun produced the largest flare observed with SWAP. At 00:24 UT active region 1429 unleashed an X5.4 flare followed by a X1.4 01:15 UT. The flare was not only the biggest observed by SWAP but also of the new solar cycle.
                      
In recent years there has been a lot of interest in space weather and in particular solar flares and their impact on the the Earth. They can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind. These particles can impact the Earth's magnetosphere creating geomagnetic storms, and present radiation hazards to spacecraft and astronauts.

The March 6th flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a massive burst of hot plasma and magnetic fields into the interplanetary medium. A coronal mass ejection may disrupt the Earth's magnetosphere, creating geomagnetic storms that can create aurorae (Northern lights) in Earth's polar regions. Similar to flares coronal mass ejections, can also disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical systems on the Earth.

In 2008 ESA set up a Space Situational Awareness programme to support Europe's independent utilisation of, and access to, space through the provision of timely and accurate information and data regarding the space environment, and particularly regarding hazards to infrastructure in orbit and on the ground. More information on SSA can be found
here. PROBA2 is currently funded through the SSA programmme.