NASA Spacecraft Witness a Coronal Mass Ejection

NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-Behind spacecraft, or STEREO-B, captured this image of a coronal mass ejection speeding away from the left side of the sun on July 22, 2013, at 3:09 a.m. EDT. The CME is traveling toward Mars. The bright light in the lower right is planet Mercury.

On July 22, 2013, at 2:24 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with a coronal mass ejection or 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 based on observations from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, show that the CME was not Earth-directed, but may pass Mars. It left the sun at around 715 miles per second, which is a fairly fast speed for CMEs. The CME may also pass by NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft, and its mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material.

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (http://swpc.noaa.gov) is the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
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