Mar 8, 2012

The largest solar storm of the last five years impacting the Earth

The planet was hit today by a solar storm of major proportions. Besides affecting the magnetic field, the phenomenon could have an impact on the lifestyle of millions of people. According to information published by the Associated Press, a huge cloud of charged particles will impact the Earth and could wreak havoc on electricity grids.

The storm began a couple of days in the sun’s surface, however a distance of about 150 million kilometers delayed its arrival on our planet. The air flights are not free of technical flaws, especially the routes of airlines operating in the northern hemisphere, AP reported. The agency noted that navigation systems are also susceptible. GPS devices use satellites to determine precise locations anywhere in the world.

Another possible impact of the storm is the appearance of auroras beyond the north and south poles. Auroras appear as light waves of different colors at night. U.S. scientists believe that after its origin in two solar flares, the particles move at a speed of over six million miles per hour.

Joe Kunches, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), based in Colorado, said the storm “is hitting us right in the nose.” The space weather specialist revealed that the solar phenomenon is divided into three stages, each with different impacts on Earth.

Last Tuesday, two flares that moved at the speed of light struck the Earth. Kunches said that such eruptions can affect the transmission of radio signals. The specialist said that the planet was surrounded by solar radiation from Wednesday, warning that this phase would remain in effect for several days. The plasma cloud that hit Earth since Thursday has the potential to affect oil and high-precision GPS systems, used in oil drillers, surveyors, and some agricultural operations, scientists said.

Doug Biesiecker, expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said that less sophisticated GPS systems, like those found in vehicles should not be affected by the solar storm. Meanwhile, the magazine New Scientist published a study that reveals a direct connection between solar storms and human beings.


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