Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



A New Sun Spells New Trouble

The mechanism of solar storms is unlikely to be fully understood anytime soon.
by Andrei Kislyakov
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Dec 01, 2008
Our Sun is muscling up again. According to NASA, it is beginning another 11-year cycle of activity. Considering that the Sun is to blame for some unfavorable climate changes on the Earth, the coming decade could spell more trouble for our planet.

The first measuring instruments made their appearance 440 years ago. They showed that our nearest star treats the Earth to more than just solar eclipses. Sunspots, solar flares, faculae and other phenomena affect everything on the Earth: from atmospheric events to human behavior. These phenomena are known collectively as solar activity.

This activity, expressing itself through bursts of solar radiation, magnetic storms or fiery flares, can vary in intensity, from very low to very strong. It is the storms that pose the greatest danger to civilization.

On August 28, 1859, polar lights glowed and shimmered all over the American continent as darkness fell. Many people thought their city was aflame. The instruments used to record this magnetic fluctuation across the world went off their scales. Telegraph systems malfunctioned, hit by a massive surge in voltage.

This was an actual solar storm. Its results for humankind were small, because civilization had not yet entered a hi-tech phase of development. Had something similar happen in our nuclear space age, destruction would have been catastrophic.

Meanwhile, according to scientific data, storms of such size occur relatively seldom: once in five centuries. But events with half the intensity happen every 50 years. The last one took place on November 13, 1960 and disturbed the Earth's geomagnetic fields, upsetting the operation of radio stations.

Now our dependence on radio electronic devices is so immense that increased solar activity could disable life-support systems all over the world, and not only on the surface.

America has long been sounding an alarm, because their continent is so close to the northern magnetic pole and is the most vulnerable to solar activity.

A study by the MetaTech Corporation revealed that an impact similar to that of 1859 would incapacitate the entire electricity grid in North America. Even the relatively weak magnetic storm of 1989, provoked by solar activity, caused an accident at a Canadian hydro-electric power plant that left 6 million people in the U.S. and Canada without electric power for nine hours.

According to a special report prepared by MetaTech for Congress in 2003, salvage and rescue work to restore power in areas with developed infrastructure could have been launched, according to estimates, only within several weeks or a month.

Poor space weather makes all orbital systems malfunction. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, satellites damaged by the Sun cost $100 million per year to repair. Satellite insurance companies paid out $2 billion between 1996 and 2005 to compensate for damage to and loss of spacecraft because of solar effects.

A heavy solar storm can cause disruption to space-based navigation systems. Mistakes in coordinate measurements can be as great as 50 m and more, making a navigation satellite unfit for its mission. A serious loss of accuracy in the GPS Navstar system was recorded during a solar storm on October 23, 2003.

The mechanism of solar storms is unlikely to be fully understood anytime soon. On the other hand, space weather is easy to forecast with available equipment. Many years ago, NASA proposed orbiting special probes to monitor space weather. Modern space technology can produce low-priced standardized devices for warning of pending space weather anomalies.

Forewarned is forearmed.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Source: RIA Novosti

Related Links
MetaTech Corporation
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The Sun Shows Signs Of Life
Huntsville AL (SPX) Nov 10, 2008
After two-plus years of few sunspots, even fewer solar flares, and a generally eerie calm, the sun is finally showing signs of life. "I think solar minimum is behind us," says sunspot forecaster David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.







  • NASA's New Ares Rocket Engine Passes Review
  • NASA to test Orion launch abort system
  • First Rocket Parts Of NASA's New Launch System Arrive In Florida
  • More design flaws found in Ares I rocket

  • Russia Launches New Space Freighter To ISS
  • South Korea To Launch Maritime Weather Satellite Next Year
  • Sea Launch Partners With Intelsat On Multi-Launch Agreement
  • HOT BIRDT 9 Starts Its Integration With Ariane 5

  • Space shuttle Endeavour lands safely in California
  • NASA Adds Seven To ISS In Flawless Launch And Docking
  • Weather good for Friday shuttle launch: NASA
  • Endeavour Blasts Into Orbit In Procedure Perfect Launch

  • New Russian Space Freighter Docks With World Orbital Station
  • Endeavour astronauts finish fourth and last spacewalk
  • ESA wants International Space Station to live longer
  • Endeavour astronauts start fourth, final spacewalk

  • Solving The Problems Of Garbage In Space
  • Kazakhstan To Fund ISS Flight For Homegrown Astronaut
  • Space Researchers Developing Tool To Help Disoriented Pilots
  • Kazakh Astronaut To Fly To ISS, Russian Hopeful Grounded

  • Damaged Nigerian satellite can't be recovered: officials
  • China Puts Two Satellites Into Orbit
  • The Chinese Space Industry Set For Take Off
  • Souped-Up Rockets For Shenzhou

  • Rescue Robot Exercise Brings Together Robots, Developers, First Responders
  • Honda unveils leg assist machine for elderly
  • Germany's CESAR Crowned King Of Rovers In ESA's Robotics Challenge
  • Cliffbot Goes Climbing

  • PolyU Gears Up For Sino-Russian Interplanetary Space Mission
  • Public Presentation About Mars Orbiter Images And Findings
  • Phoenix Lander Winds Up Its Astonishing Summer On Mars
  • Solar Wind Rips Up Martian Atmosphere

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement