Solar activity has been on the rise ever since the turn of 2023, but the month of March in particular witnessed some record-breaking solar storms. In the second week of the month, the Earth suffered the blow of a G3-class geomagnetic storm that delayed a SpaceX rocket launch and disrupted the operations of oil rigs in Canada. Worse was to come. In the third week of March, the worst solar storm in six years, a G4-class geomagnetic storm struck the Earth. And now, the planet must brace for another ordeal as solar winds, moving as fast as 600 kilometers per second, have struck the Earth. Forecasters have also issued a solar storm warning for later today.
The incident was reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted in its website, “Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing 600 km/s (1.3 million mph) from a small hole in the sun’s atmosphere. Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on March 31st, and Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras”.
Solar storm to strike the Earth today
This particular stream of solar wind escaped from the Sun on March 21. The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a large coronal hole in the Sun which was spewing solar winds. While getting hit by solar winds is not an unusual phenomenon, two reasons make this particular one concerning. First is that the amount of solar wind moving towards the Earth is huge. And second is that the Earth’s magnetic field is still filled with small cracks, through which solar winds can escape and enter the upper atmosphere of the Earth and cause a menacing solar storm event.
However, while additional factors can make the eventual geomagnetic storm a dangerous one, at the moment the forecasters have predicted a G1-class geomagnetic storm. While these storms are minor, they can still cause radio blackouts and disrupt GPS signals.
The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory
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.