Thursday, July 18, 2024

Mysterious radio signals from sun focus of new NASA mission

CURIE will investigate where solar radio waves originate in coronal mass ejections, like this one seen in 304- and 171-angstrom wavelengths by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

SPACE (KXAN) — Radio signals are coming from somewhere within our sun and NASA wants to find out from where. On July 9, the space administration will launch the first mission designed to locate these signals: CURIE.

The CubeSat Radio Interferometry Experiment (CURIE) will use two small cube satellites to locate the source of these radio signals, emitted during solar storms, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME).


Understanding more about these forms of space weather is extremely important. Storms on the sun can impact technology on Earth, including our communication networks.

According to NASA, scientists first detected these radio signals decades ago. While they know that they occur during solar storms, they don’t know where from.

According to the European Space Agency, these radio waves must be observed from space. The Earth’s ionosphere absorbs them before they reach the ground. The ionosphere extends 30 to 600 miles above the Earth’s surface and is filled with charged gasses.

How will NASA track mystery radio signals?

CURIE, once in orbit, will separate into two. The two cube satellites will then move two miles apart.

CURIE team members work on integrating the satellites into the CubeSat deployer. (Credit: ExoLaunch)

When the sun emits a radio wave, the two satellites will capture the signal and then triangulate where it came from.

CURIE will fly into orbit onboard the Ariane 6 rocket. This rocket is operated by the European Space Agency. It will be its first flight.

CURIE is sponsored by NASA’s Heliophysics Flight Opportunities for Research and Technology (H-FORT) Program. NASA later plans to launch the SunRISE mission, which will track radio signals with six satellites.

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