More Active Sun Means Nasty Solar Storms Ahead
2010-06-10 0:00

From: Space.com


The sun is about to get a lot more active, which could have ill effects on Earth. So to prepare, top sun scientists met Tuesday to discuss the best ways to protect Earth’s satellites and other vital systems from the coming solar storms.

Solar storms occur when sunspots on our star erupt and spew out flumes of charged particles that can damage power systems. The sun’s activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, and it looks to be coming out of a slump and gearing up for an active period.

"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity," said Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division. "At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss."

Fisher and other experts met at the Space Weather Enterprise Forum, which took place in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club.

Bad news for gizmos

People of the 21st century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. But smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.

A major solar storm could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina, warned the National Academy of Sciences in a 2008 report, "Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts." [Photos: Sun storms.]

Luckily, much of the damage can be mitigated if managers know a storm is coming. That’s why better understanding of solar weather, and the ability to give advance warning, is especially important.

Putting satellites in ’safe mode’ and disconnecting transformers can protect electronics from damaging electrical surges.

"Space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but we’re making rapid progress," said Thomas Bogdan, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.

Eyes on the sun

NASA and NOAA work together to manage a fleet of satellites that monitor the sun and help to predict its changes.

A pair of spacecraft called STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is stationed on opposite sides of the sun, offering a combined view of 90 percent of the solar surface. In addition, SDO (the Solar Dynamics Observatory), which just launched in February 2010, is able to photograph solar active regions with unprecedented spectral, temporal and spatial resolution. Also, an old satellite called the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), which launched in 1997, is still chugging along monitoring winds coming off the sun. And there are dozens more dedicated to solar science.

"I believe we’re on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather." Fisher said. "We take this very seriously indeed."


Article from: Space.com



Related Articles
STEREO
Solar Scientists Agree That the Sun’s Recent Behavior Is Odd, but the Explanation Remains Elusive
Stare at the Sun: New NASA close-up images of solar flares released (Video)
New science paper: "Persistent evidence of a Jovian mass Solar companion in the Oort cloud?"
Solar Current of Fire Speeds Up
EMP - A Deadly Kink In Our Armor


Latest News from our Front Page

Stephen Hawking: humanity needs to live in space or die out, physicist warns via hologram
2015-04-28 3:05
Humans should go and live in space within the next 1,000 years, or it will die out, Stephen Hawking has warned. "We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity," Mr Hawking said. "I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet." Hawking issued the warning during one of two talks at the ...
What's wrong with the Swedes - and so many other Whites?
2015-04-28 3:14
Another in the unending list of suicidal behavior by Swedes, this one by Cecilia Wilkström, a Member of the European Parliament for the center-right (!) Liberal Party, who is concerned about the recent drownings in the Mediterranean of Africans attempting to invade Europe. Note that, once again, the Holocaust is front and center stage as a paradigm requiring Westerners to ...
Scenes of Chaos in Baltimore
2015-04-28 2:20
A largely peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal cord injury in police custody, gave way to scattered scenes of chaos here on Saturday night, as demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, threw rocks and bottles and damaged police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes and made 12 ...
MSNBC Guest: "You Don't Have to Have a White Person Around to Have White Supremacy Play Out"
2015-04-27 22:36
What makes the academic study of “white supremacy” and “white privilege” so perfect for racialists is that it requires absolutely no parameters of study. There are no standards of proof. There is no way any claims can be vetted in peer-reviewed journals because the “evidence” can be explained by other factors. Anything and everything can be pointed to as being ...
Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs
2015-04-27 22:23
Immigration - Global humanitarian reasons for current U.S. immigration are tested in this updated version of immigration author and journalist Roy Beck's colorful presentation of data from the World Bank and U.S. Census Bureau. The 1996 version of this immigration gumballs presentation has been one of the most viewed immigration policy presentations on the internet. Presented by immigration author/journalist Roy Beck Learn ...
More News »