Satellites at risk from solar flare
Thursday 10 April 1997
The flare, consisting of electrons and charged ions of elements from hydrogen to iron, was thrown off the Sun's surface in "a high energy event" known as a coronal mass ejection.
"When it gets to the Earth, the first effects will be seen by spacecraft and satellites," said Andrew Coates, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratories.
The charged particles induce currents in metal objects. The last time this occurred, in January, the Telstar 401 satellite failed. Power lines also suffer from the induced currents, which can blow supplies. In 1991, a Quebec power company was seriously affected by power surges caused by a solar storm.
Scientists were unsure yesterday afternoon exactly when the particles from the ejection will arrive in the Earth's magnetic field. It was detected by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a satellite that Nasa and the European Space Agency launched in 1995 to keep a constant eye on the Sun's surface.
Dr Coates said: "We'll get about an hour's warning from one of our observation satellites.The Earth's magnetic field is going to take a battering. In January, the number of electrons in the atmosphere went up by a factor of 10,000. It was just after the peak that Telstar failed."
However, the same particles will also make the aurora borealis visible further south than normal. "It should be visible in Scotland, and maybe even lower down."
The real danger is to satellites which are in geostationary orbit - predominantly TV and communications. "They are in the firing line," said Dr Coates.
- 1 Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 It won’t work, Jeremy: The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the medical profession in his attempt to reform the NHS
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
Kim Jong-un is awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Calais crisis: Migrants that have made it to the UK reveal how Britain has matched their expectations
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...