Powerful solar flare disrupts ground communications on Earth

February 19th, 2011 - 12:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 19 (ANI): An internationally known space weather expert has said that a powerful solar flare that has triggered one of the largest space weather storms in at least four years has disrupted some ground communications on Earth.

Classified as a Class X flare, the Feb. 15 event also spewed billions of tons of charged particles toward Earth in what are called coronal mass ejections and ignited a geomagnetic storm in Earth’s magnetic field, said University of Colorado Boulder Professor Daniel Baker.

These powerful ejections are likely to disrupt airline navigation systems and power grids to the safety of airline crews and astronauts.

“The sun is coming back to life,” said Baker. For the past several years the sun has been in its most quiescent state since early in the 20th century, said Baker.

From a scientific standpoint a class X event-the most powerful kind of solar flare-is exciting, said Baker.

“But as a society, we can’t afford to let our guard down when operating spacecraft in the near-Earth environment,’ he said.

And, in the next two-three days more coronal mass ejections are likely tp reach Earth’s atmosphere, suggests National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Human dependence on technology makes society more susceptible to the effects of space weather. But scientists and engineers have made great strides in recent decades regarding this phenomenon.

“We understand much more about what is happening and can build more robust systems to withstand the effects. It will be interesting to see how well our technological systems will withstand the rigors of space weather as the sun gets back to higher activity levels,” he added. (ANI)

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