Unprecedented solar flare hit Earth, Moon and Mars at the same time

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(ORDO NEWS) — As a result of a revolutionary cosmic event on the Sun, a powerful solar flare known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) occurred, which simultaneously reached Mars, the Earth and the Moon. This unusual phenomenon, documented in a recent Geographical Research Letters article, has never been observed in this manner before.

Despite the vast distance between the planets, both Mars and Earth were intensely bombarded by a burst of energetic particles.

An international ensemble of spacecraft, including ESA‘s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), NASA‘s Curiosity rover, CNSA’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and DLR’s Eu:CROPIS Earth orbiter, played a decisive role role in detecting and obtaining data on this unprecedented solar eruption.

This event provided scientists with a unique opportunity to observe and measure the effects of a solar eruption on the surface of several celestial bodies simultaneously.

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Comparing solar flares on different planets, it should be noted that the event of October 28, 2021 belongs to a rare type of flare called “ground-level amplification”.

During such flares, the particles of the Sun have enough energy to break through the Earth’s magnetic shield. This is only the 73rd recorded increase in ground level since records began in the 1940s, and scientists have not observed such phenomena since.

While the Earth’s magnetic shield provides protection from less energetic solar flares, solar particles can easily reach the surfaces of the Moon and Mars due to their lack of their own magnetic fields.

On these celestial bodies, particles can interact with the soil and cause secondary radiation. While Mars has a thin atmosphere that impedes most low-energy solar particles and slows down high-energy particles, it does not provide complete protection.

Understanding the possible consequences of such solar eruptions is critical to future human exploration of the Moon and Mars, especially given the risk of radiation sickness that astronauts may face.

Radiation doses above 700 milliroentgens can cause radiation sickness, leading to bone marrow destruction, infections, and internal bleeding. If an astronaut receives more than 10 grays of radiation, survival after two weeks is unlikely.

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For example, a solar flare in August 1972 would have been fatal to any astronaut on the lunar surface, fortunately occurring between the Apollo 16 and 17 missions. For comparison, the radiation dose in lunar orbit during the October 28, 2021 event, measured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, was only 31 milligray (absorbed dose unit).

The scientist Jingnan Guo, who studied this particular event, emphasized the importance of understanding these events for future crew flights to the lunar surface. “Our calculations of past events associated with increased levels of radiation on the lunar surface show that, on average, one event every 5.5 years could exceed the safe dose level on the moon if radiation shielding were not provided,” Guo said.

This unprecedented solar flare and its impact on numerous celestial bodies provides valuable insight into the nature of solar eruptions and the role of the planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere in protecting against such events. As scientists continue to analyze the data from this extraordinary event, our understanding of space weather and its implications for space exploration will no doubt expand.


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