Large solar coronal mass ejection CME to hit earth Saturday

Sun CME solar flare

M3.2 Class flare seen by several NASA satellites

See Live images of the sun here

See article about new flare on 1/24/12 here

Update 1/21/12 – The CME has passed and NOAA has removed the warning for a CME Event.

The CME is Earth directed with impact predicted for Jan. 21, 2012. Increasing sun activity let loose a long duration M3.2 class flare and coronal mass ejection (CME) between 15:15 and 16:30 UT (or 10:15 eastern) 1/19/12.


Animated projection of M3.2 class flare and coronal mass ejection (CME) 1/19/12

Animated projection of M3.2 class flare and coronal mass ejection (CME) 1/19/12 Click for full image.


This video taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a close-up of sunspot 1401 region as the flare erupts. The CME cloud lifting off is visible just past midway in the video. Across the top is a graph of corresponding X-ray measurements taken by the GOES 15 satellite.

The Goddard Space Weather Lab confirms the CME is heading for Earth, they say strong geomagnetic storms are possible when the cloud arrives this weekend. Their forecast track predicts an impact on Jan. 21st at 22:30 UT or 5:30pm EasternĀ  (+/- 7 hrs)

Video from the SOHO spacecraft of CME

The CME will reach Mars on Jan. 24th. NASA’s Curiosity rover, en route to Mars now, is actually performing science data collection right now on it’s trip (Read about it here) and might be able to detect a change in the energetic particle environment when the CME passes by.

About the author

Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.