It’s the first mission of its kind, set to monitor our active and unpredictable Sun and help protect us from its violent outbursts – and it has a new name.

Once known as “Lagrange,” ESA’s upcoming space weather mission needed a new name that would reflect its vital role: helping to protect Earth’s infrastructure, satellites, inhabitants and space explorers from unpredictable but violent solar events like solar flares and ‘coronal mass ejections’.

During the #NameTheMission campaign, 5422 entries were submitted from across Europe and indeed around the world – and after weeks of deliberation, countless spreadsheets, three diverse and expert judges and a lively debate – a new name has been selected for our upcoming space weather mission: ESA Vigil.

“We are thrilled with our mission’s new name,” explains Juha-Pekka Luntama, ESA’s Head of Space Weather.

“When I first heard it, I thought it was just spot on. That is exactly what we do, we keep a vigilant watch and guard Earth”.

In Latin, ‘vigilis exceptus’ means sentry, or guard, while ‘vigilia’ means wakefulness and the act of keeping a devoted watch, which resonates with the mission’s role – a devoted guardian, keeping constant watch over the Sun, for Earth.

Protecting modern life, and life itself

Solar storms can damage power grids, disrupt telecommunications and threaten satellites and the vital services they provide. At the same time, as we launch ever-more satellites into orbit we are creating increasing amounts of debris – dramatically increasing the risks of collision for current and future missions.

These satellites have changed our lives and enlarged our perspective on Earth, but they – and the technologies they make possible on which modernity relies – are vulnerable.

The protection of space assets is at the heart of ESA’s Vision for the future . To do this, the new Protect ‘accelerator’ proposes the development of ‘air traffic control for space’, as well as an early warning system to help us prepare for hazardous solar activity.

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