CME Headed Toward Planet Mercury
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This image of a coronal mass ejection (CME) was captured at 7:30 a.m. EDT on April 20, 2013. The CME is headed in the direction of Mercury. The large bright spot on the left is Venus.
On April 20, 2013, at 2:54 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with a coronal mass ejection (CME), a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space that can affect electronic systems in satellites. Experimental NASA research models show that the CME left the sun at 500 miles per second and is not Earth-directed. However, it may pass by NASA's Messenger and STEREO-A satellites, and their mission operators have been notified. There is, however, no particle radiation associated with this event, which is what would normally concern operators of interplanetary spacecraft since the particles can trip computer electronics on board. When warranted, NASA operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material
What is a solar flare? What is a CME?
For answers to these and other space weather questions, please visit the Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page.
Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD