The UK-built Solar Orbiter has recorded the world’s first video showing powerful eruptions from the sun.
These events, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are eruptions near the sun’s surface that blast out into the solar system.
They have the potential to trigger space weather that can interfere with satellites and power grids on Earth, and can be harmful to unprotected astronauts.
Chris Castelli, director of programs at the UK Space Agency, said: “Coronal Mass Ejections can cause Geomagnetic Storms on Earth, which can disrupt power grids and the satellites we rely on for things like navigation and telephone communications.
“Tracking their progress will provide new insight into how the Sun affects space weather and its impact on our daily lives.
“UK specialists are playing a leading role in one of the most important space science missions of our generation through our membership of the European Space Agency,” Castelli said.
The video released on Monday came from a close perihelion pass of the Sun on February 10, which took the spacecraft within half the distance between Earth and the Sun.
When the footage was captured, the spacecraft was behind the Sun as viewed from Earth, resulting in very low data transfer rates.
It has taken more than three months for the data to be downloaded and analysed.