A SOLAR Storm is due to arrive on Saturday morning and last through to Sunday, slamming into Earth’s magnetic field.
The storm began on Thursday when the sun unleashed a massive flare that hurled a cloud of highly charged particles racing toward Earth at 4.8 million km/h. It was the sixth time this year that such a powerful solar outburst has occurred. None of the previous storms caused major problems.
In severe cases, solar storms can cause power blackouts, damage satellites and disrupt GPS signals and high-frequency radio communications. Airlines are sometimes forced to reroute flights to avoid the extra radiation around the poles.
In 1989, a strong solar storm knocked out the power grid in Quebec, causing six million people to lose electricity.
|The geomagnetic storm causing this event was itself the result of a coronal mass ejection on March 9, 1989.As this occurred during the Cold War, many worried that a nuclear first-strike might be in progress. Others considered the intense auroras to be associated with the Space Shuttle mission, which had been launched on March 13 at 9:57:00 AM. The burst caused short-wave radio interference, including the disruption of radio signals into Russia. It was initially believed that the signals had been jammed by the Soviet government.
Some satellites in polar orbits lost control for several hours. GOES weather satellite communications were interrupted causing weather images to be lost. NASA’s TDRS-1 communication satellite recorded over 250 anomalies caused by the increased particles flowing into its sensitive electronics. The Space Shuttle Discovery was having its own problems. A sensor on one of the tanks supplying hydrogen to a fuel cell was showing unusually high pressure readings on March 13. The problem went away after the solar storm subsided.
In yet another solar storm of 1859, the solar storm produced the largest known solar flare.
|The SOLAR STORM of 1859, also known as the 1859 Solar Superstorm, or the Carrington Event, was a powerful solar storm in 1859 during solar cycle 10. It produced the largest known solar flare.On September 1–2, 1859, the largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world, most notably over the Caribbean; also noteworthy were those over the Rocky Mountains that were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People who happened to be awake in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora’s light.Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases even shocking telegraph operators. Telegraph pylons threw sparks and telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire. Some telegraph systems appeared to continue to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies.Time to protect Mother Earth? Read about Earth Day 2012 here|
According to reports, Scientists say it will be a minor event, and they have notified power grid operators, airlines and other potentially affected parties.
“We don’t see any ill effects to any systems,” forecaster Joe Kunches at the US Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado said on Friday.
There’s a bright side to stormy space weather: It tends to spawn colourful northern lights as the charged particles bombard Earth’s outer magnetic field. Shimmering auroras may be visible at the United States-Canada border and northern Europe this weekend, Kunches said.
Juha-Pekka Luntama, a space weather expert at the European Space Agency, said utility and navigation operators “will certainly see something, but they will probably find ways to deal with any problems.”
The storm is part of the sun’s normal 11-year cycle of solar activity, which is supposed to reach peak storminess next year.
According to Wikipedia, A Solar Storm is a Violent outburst of explosive activity on the Sun.
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