Solar storm hits the Earth, could disrupt satcoms in the North

US space weather authorities bared Monday that a strong radiation storm brought about by solar flare struck the Northern regions of the Earth since Sunday, and may temporarily knock down some satellite communications across the polar regions.

A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of about a sixth of the total energy output of the Sun each second.

The solar flare phenomenon erupted near the sun’s center last Sunday and has already started to unleash a rush of radiation through solar protons that may persist throughout Wednesday.

According to Doug Beisecker, a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Bureau, “the flare itself was nothing spectacular, but did send off coronal mass ejection moving at four million miles per hour (6.4 million kilometer per hour).

He said that the radiation storm is believed to be the largest of its kind since the last recorded same phenomenon in 2005, but still ranks only a three on the scale of one to five.

In its website, NOAA said the S3 ranking means “it could, e.g., cause isolated reboots of computers onboard Earth-orbiting satellites and interfere with polar radio communications.”

Biesecker stressed that polar regions are mostly affected by the radiation storms, possibly disrupting airline flights, oil operations, Arctic exploration and space satellites.

“We don’t expect major impacts from an event like this, except for the people who need GPS (global positioning system) accuracy of centimeters.