Our solar system’s Sun is getting a lot of attention these days, and for all the right reasons: right now humanity and all its technology are more vulnerable than ever to the effects of solar storms and flares, and we really need to keep a close eye on the giant ball of fire Earth is spinning around.
Most recently, NASA’s and ESA’s joint Solar Orbiter spacecraft caught on tape, for the first time, a solar eruption. Officially called coronal mass ejection, the event translates not only into plasma being sent out into space, but also a magnetic field that, if it encounters Earth, could spell trouble.
ESA, which is the European Space Agency, is currently developing something of a solar storm hunter, a spacecraft that should be able to spot these space weather events before they reach our planet.
The spacecraft is to be deployed on a fixed position relative to the Earth and the Sun, the so-called Lagrange point. From there, it should be capable of seeing the formation of sunspots on the surface of the star, but also track “the propagation of solar events as they travel toward Earth.”
When it detects something dangerous, it will send warnings to us earthlings, giving us some time to prepare for a solar storm.
ESA announced this project in 2020 as the “world’s first mission to provide solar warning“ and it is still working on creating the spacecraft. While it does this, it decided to ask for public help in naming it.
As of now and until October 17, people can submit their ideas for the name of the ship at this link. There are a bunch of rules to be followed, like not reusing monikers from other missions, or not allowing proper nouns, but other than that, the sky is the limit.