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Expert Comment: re-creating eclipses in space

12th April 2024

Expert Comment: re-creating eclipses in space

As the world prepares for a total solar eclipse on Monday, our astrodynamicist, Dr Nicola Baresi, hopes to unlock further scientific investigations by providing scientists with more total eclipse data from space.

Dr Baresi says:

“The intense preparations by scientists to ensure they maximise the data from today’s eclipse show how important these special cosmic events are for our understanding of the sun. What if we didn’t have to wait a year or two for the next few minutes of total eclipse?”

Together with UCL’s Mullard Solar Space Laboratory, Aberystwyth University, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, and international partners from the US and Australia, Dr Baresi and his team are working on an innovative satellite mission that aims to recreate total solar eclipse conditions in space once a month using the Moon as a natural occulter.

Dr Baresi added:

“Our Moon-Enabled Sun Occultation Mission [MESOM] concept would provide scientists with high-quality data of the inner part of the Sun’s corona. It would fill a gap in currently available datasets and enable a better understanding of the Sun’s atmosphere.”

Catching total eclipses in space would be even better for scientific study than viewing from Earth’s surface because there are no atmospheric disturbances in space which can case distortions. The total eclipses caught by MESOM would also last much longer than those on Earth.