Coronal mass ejection engulfing satellite, illustration

Coronal mass ejection engulfing satellite, illustration

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Illustration of a coronal mass ejection impacting the Earth s atmosphere and destroying an artificial satellite. These events, CMEs for short, are powerful releases of solar charged particles (plasma) and magnetic field, travelling on the solar wind. When a CME hits Earth, it can cause a geomagnetic storm which disrupts the planet s magnetosphere, our radio transmissions and electrical power lines. They can damage artificial satellites and cause long-lasting power outages. Humans in orbit are also very vulnerable to these events, whose high-energy particles are not shield by typical spacecraft.

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