NASA, the US space agency has warned of a solar storm that will disrupt the internet, electricity on Earth. According to various media reports, NASA got the information regarding the solar storm via its mission caller Parker Solar Probe. It is a mission that launched in 2018 to unlock the mysteries of the Sun's corona and solar wind. In 2021, NASA sent a spacecraft, size equivalent to a small car, to travel directly through Sun's atmosphere to trace the flow of energy and determine the wind speed.
According to NASA's probe, solar activity is likely to ramp up until the predicted solar maximum in 2025, according to Space.com.
The heightened solar activity poses a risk to satellites, spacecraft and even spacewalking astronauts due to increased radiation exposure.
The solar activity will also pose a risk to Earth, as it will trigger large geomagnetic storms that can interfere with high-frequency radio communications and global positioning systems (GPS). This might cause an internet outage, meaning an internet shutdown. However, the mystery regarding the date and time of such activity remains.
What is a solar cycle?
It is driven by the sun's magnetic field and every 11 years or so the sun's magnetic field flip and the north becomes south and vice versa. Changes in the sun's magnetic field affect the amount of activity on the solar surface.
The flip in the magnetic field has ripple effects on the solar system. Planets without a protective magnetosphere such as Venus feel the full impact.
Earth's magnetic poles also flip, but the interval between the reversals is much longer, averaging about every 300,000 years according to NASA Climate. The last pole reversal happened about 780,000 years ago, according to the Space.com
When the solar cycle is at peak activity, it can pose a risk to communications on Earth and satellites.
One spectacular side-effect of increased solar activity during the solar cycle is aurora. When the energetic particles from the sun slam into Earth's atmosphere, dazzling light shows illuminates the sky. The color of the aurora depends on what chemicals in Earth's atmosphere the particles hit. Red hues are produced from collisions with nitrogen molecules and green is produced by oxygen molecules.
How solar activity can affect Earth?
Large solar flares can lead to a radio blackout storm on Earth.
The solar storm can endanger astronauts and Earth-orbiting spacecraft.
The solar storm can hit Earth's magnetosphere and induce currents in electrical systems on Earth. During this time, power grids are vulnerable and can cause major blackouts.
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