Solar storm ALERT! Earth to suffer Sun blast today, warns NASA

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The solar onslaught continues. Yesterday, February 16, powerful solar winds entered the Earth’s inner atmosphere through a crack that opened in the magnetosphere. As a result, aurora displays were seen as far as New York, which is amazing as it is an extremely low altitude area when it comes to aurora formation. But that was a mild affair. NASA prediction models have now warned us against a far more sinister solar storm attack. A coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud that was released on Valentine’s day will finally reach our planet today, February 17. The resultant solar storm can be dangerous and have serious consequences for ham radio operators and independent aviators. Check details.

The development was reported by which noted on its website, “A CME is heading for Earth, and it could spark a good display of auroras when it arrives later today or tomorrow. NASA’s computer model of the CME suggests it will reach Earth on Feb. 17th at 1800 UT. First contact is expected to produce a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm, intensifying to moderate G2-class storming on Feb. 18th”. For the Indian context, the solar storm will strike the Earth at around 11:30 PM IST.

Solar storm to strike the Earth today

The concerning aspect from this solar storm is that it has a potential to grow to a G2-class storm. This is far more intense than the usual G1-class events we see generally. Just a couple of days ago, a G2-class solar storm caused one of the most intense auroral displays in a long time. But that is not the full extent of what such solar storms can do.

Being a G2-class storm, it can also disrupt wireless communications and GPS services, causing trouble for airlines, mariners, ham radio controllers and drone operators. The solar storm can delay flights, cause ships to change course and disrupt any important information that is shared through these low frequency channels.

Further, a powerful solar storm can potentially damage satellites, break down mobile networks and internet services, cause power grid failures and corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics such as pacemakers and ventilators. However, whether this solar storm can turn so dangerous is something we have to wait and watch.

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory’s role in predicting solar storms

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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