Data from ESA’s Cluster mission has provided a recording of the eerie ‘song’ that Earth sings when it is hit by a solar storm. The new findings were published today in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The song comes from waves that are generated in the Earth’s magnetic field by the collision of the storm. The storm itself is the eruption of electrically charged particles from the Sun’s atmosphere.
A team led by Lucile Turc, a former ESA research fellow who is now based at the University of Helsinki, Finland, made the discovery after analysing data from the Cluster Science Archive. The archive provides access to all data obtained during Cluster’s ongoing mission over almost two decades.
Cluster consists of four spacecraft that orbit Earth in formation, investigating our planet’s magnetic environment and its interaction with the solar wind – a constant flow of particles released by the Sun into the Solar System.
As part of their orbits, the Cluster spacecraft repeatedly fly through the foreshock, which is the first region that particles encounter when a solar storm hits our planet. The team found that in the early part of the mission, from 2001 to 2005, the spacecraft flew ...