From hurricanes to solar storms, weather in space has the potential to cause havoc on Earth so the European Space Agency (Esa) is planning a space-weather satellite to act like an interstellar forecaster.
In 2023, Esa will send a probe to a gravitationally stable point in space, known as Langrage 5 (L5), where it will study streams of charged particles heading towards Earth. Other probes currently face the Sun, at Larange 1 (L1), so the new positioning would offer an alternative view of the star’s surface and let scientists measure the speed of solar eruptions more precisely. It will be the first Esa mission aimed at forecasting space weather.
Solar storms, or coronal mass ejections (CME), can have an adverse effect on satellites across the Earth. A recent study, co-authored by researchers from the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at University of Cambridge, predicted solar storms could cause massive blackouts across the US and cost up to $41.5 billion a day due to the economic costs of disruption.