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ESA VIGIL

Context

Vigil, known initially as Lagrange, is a planned solar weather mission by the European Space Agency (ESA). Two spacecraft will be stationed at the Lagrangian locations L1 and L5, respectively, as part of this mission.

Key Points

  • It's the first mission of its sort, to monitor the Sun's unexpected and active activity and assist in protecting the Earth from its outbursts.
  • ESA Vigil will track solar flares, coronal mass ejections, geomagnetic storms, solar proton events, and other space weather events.
  • The tracking of space events will aid in predicting when they will arrive on Earth and what impact they will have on infrastructure.

Objectives of the Mission

  • This mission aims to place two spacecraft in the Lagrangian points of L1 and L5, where gravitational forces interact to create a stable area where fuel can be saved, and observations can be taken. 
  • L1 is 'upstream' from Earth in the solar wind, measurements at the L1 will provide information about approaching space weather. 
  • The L5 point, on the other hand, enables the side-by-side tracking of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) to determine their speed and direction.
  • The spacecraft will take measurements of the solar wind's density, speed, dynamic pressure, temperature, and charged particle environment and the strength and direction of the interplanetary magnetic field at L1. At L1, the spacecraft will also observe the solar disc and corona and monitor solar energetic particles connected to solar flares and the beginning of coronal mass ejections.
  • The satellite at L5 would supplement the measurements made at L1 by providing a side-view of the spread of plasma clouds generated by the Sun toward Earth.
  • At L5, the spacecraft would take interplanetary medium readings and observe the solar disc and corona.

Lagrange Points

  • At Lagrange Points in space, the gravitational forces of a two-body system, such as the Sun and the Earth, produce heightened zones of attraction and repulsion. 
  • These points are used by spacecraft to lower the fuel required to stay in position.
  • Josephy-Louis Lagrange, an Italian-French mathematician, is the name given to Lagrange points.

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