Fierce Solar storms can strike Earth anytime! Time for you to worry | Tech News

Fierce Solar storms can strike Earth anytime! Time for you to worry

Earth is constantly in danger from dangerous solar storms. Can humanity handle a giant solar storm impact? Know what the NOAA said.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Aug 30 2022, 16:18 IST
NASA reveals stunning Jupiter images captured by James Webb Space Telescope
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1/6 Amazingly, currently, on Jupiter, there are auroras, storms, extreme temperatures and powerful winds stirring things up, according to NASA. The images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope could give scientists a look at the conditions of the gas giant. (NASA)
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2/6 Planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley said, “We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest. It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image.” (NASA)
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3/6 The images were captured by the telescope's Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) instrument on July 27, which highlighted the planet's unique features. According to NASA, the NIRCam has three specialized infrared filters that showcase details of the planet. (AFP)
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4/6 The image was created by compositing several images. Auroras are visible near the Northern and Southern poles of the planet. According to NASA, the auroras shine in a filter that is mapped to redder colors, which also highlights light reflected from lower clouds and upper hazes. (NASA)
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5/6 The Great Red Spot as well as other clouds can be visible in the images as white since it is reflecting the sunlight. The Great Red Spot is a giant vortex which has been swirling around on Jupiter’s surface for a long time. Jupiter’s 2 moons, Amalthea and Adrastea can also be seen “photo-bombing” the planet. (REUTERS)
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6/6 Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science program said, “This one image sums up the science of our Jupiter system program, which studies the dynamics and chemistry of Jupiter itself, its rings, and its satellite system.” (NASA/AFP)
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A NOAA expert showed the scary side of the solar storms and their impact on Earth. (Pixabay)

Solar storms have been striking the Earth with increasing rapidity over the last few weeks as the Sun marches towards the solar maximum in its 11-year cycle. They have caused fascinating auroras on the poles apart from interfering with GPS and causing radio blackouts. The Earth has been lucky so far as these solar storms have not been powerful enough to cause more damage. However, they have also raised one important question- what if an extreme solar storm hits Earth? Are we prepared for it? Undoubtedly, the effect of a fierce solar storm can be destructive to our every day lives. For instance, back in 2003, a surprise solar storm disrupted hundreds of flights all over the world, caused the loss of control of many low Earth orbiting satellites and people in Sweden were left without electricity as the power grid went down.

But that was not the most dreadful instance of a solar storm on Earth. The Carrington Event in 1859 and the 1921 New York Railroad Storm, were two most powerful solar storms in recorded history which caused widespread terror on Earth. Both of these solar storms at that time disrupted telegraph services all over the world. But things have changed now. Telegraph is a story of the past now, in the today's world, many other technologies, including the internet and satellites are equally vulnerable to space weather outbursts.

The problem is that space weather forecasters are only marginally better at predicting those storms than they were in 2003, Bill Murtagh, NOAA's SWPC program coordinator told Space.com. Space weather forecasters still have very little information about what's happening on the side facing away from Earth, the report suggested. The fact is, our life-giving star is still spinning on its axis like before and by monitoring visible sunspots, scientists do get a rough idea of the upcoming solar flare but chances to know the exact time and strength is difficult.

So, will Earth be able to tackle the impact of fierce solar storms?

"There's no doubt we're better now than we were in many areas," Murtagh told Space.com. The incident back in February 2022 clearly showed the impact of solar storms in today's world! SpaceX had lost a batch of new Starlink satellites after launching them into a mild geomagnetic storm. Murtagh admitted that a storm of the scale of the Carrington event can create havoc on satellites today.

However, he suggests that in the coming years, space weather forecasting will be easier and better with a new mission by the European Space Agency, called Vigil in 2025. It will allow forecasters to look "round the corner" of the not so visible sides of the sun.

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First Published Date: 30 Aug, 15:01 IST
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