Solar Storms Could Knock Out Electricity, Wireless Technologies

SunSevere space weather is threatening everything from power grids to cell phones. The culprit is Solar Cycle 24, an 11-year-period of magnetic storms and strong solar winds that started in early 2008.  The number of  storms will gradually increase in the next few years, reaching a maximum by 2012.Solar storms affect electronics on Earth by generating intense magnetic fields.  They can affect everything from power grids and satellite communications to GPS, cell phones, ATMs and even medical devices like pacemakers.

The sun’s ferocity can destroy satellites in orbit and cause power transformers on Earth to burn out. It may also pose risks to aircraft and airline passengers, especially on flights traveling over either the North or South Pole.

During high solar activity, polar airline flights are often diverted to lower latitudes to prevent loss of radio communications and to avoid human exposure to increased solar radiation, which can pass through the aircraft. Each flight can cost up to $100,000 for additional fuel, flight crews, and landings. Solar storms can also affect:

  • Magnetic altitude control of satellites
  • Computer and computer memory
  • High frequency communications used by the military and some airlines
  • Atmospheric drag on satellites
  • Astronaut radiation dosage and safety
  • GPS signal transmission and reception
  • Electricity grids
  • Telecommunication satellites and ground cable

Many of these effects are transitory, but they can be very disruptive and potentially dangerous, both to the systems themselves and the nation’s economy. Damage to these systems can also result in secondary effects that can disrupt virtually every major infrastructure dependant on them, including transportation, security and emergency response systems, telecommunications and other wireless networks and electronic equipment.

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2 Comments

Filed under solar storns, Technology, Technology news

2 responses to “Solar Storms Could Knock Out Electricity, Wireless Technologies

  1. Pingback: Solar Storms

  2. JDKdallas

    As an enterprise user, that’s pretty significant information, I’m going to make sure our brokers all carry maps and know how to read them. Just in case!

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