Tuesday, February 10, 2015

NASA will deploy new hardware to detect destructive solar storms

Here is some good news on the homeland security front.  The Weather Channel reports that NASA will deploy a new satellite, Sunday February 15, 2015, to provide better warning of large solar storms, link here.

Solar storms come in waves, and the most destructive is usually the coronal mass ejection (CME) which may arrive up to three days after the solar flare if the Earth is in the “wrong” position in its orbit (and at matching inclination) as it goes around the sun, or as the Sun itself rotates (every 30 days or so).  Most CME’s miss Earth, like a big one in July 2012.

The video mentions the nine-hour power outage in a lot of Quebec in March 1989 due to a CME.  We dread to think what a Carrington-sized CME could do.

Utilities are supposed to be developing more advanced grounding techniques to reduce the damage to large transformers, which cannot be easily replaced.  Insurance companies say they are making progress.  One strategy after a NASA warning could be a temporary area-wide brownout or blackout, with little warning to the public. 
Typically the strength of a CME is not known until it approaches closely, at a Lagrange point, but NASA is supposed to have solutions for that issue.   

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