More Active Sun Means Nasty Solar Storms Ahead
2010 06 10

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

NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us. At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account. Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy. The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade. Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday. The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria. A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
More News »