STATES CHRONICLE – Considering the potential havoc they could cause, the U.S. started making plans against space storms and the possibility of the damage that might be caused within the next decade. It’s not an inevitable or definitive possibility, but a strong manifestation of space weather could be hazardous to our planet.
While Earth is generally protected, along with its populations, space weather might still affect us. And it will hit exactly where it will hurt some the most: technology and communication. If estimations hold true, there is a 12% chance that an impacting space storm could be hitting in the next 10 years. This could mean trouble.
Space weather could manifest itself through solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), solar particle events, solar winds, and many more. There’s a heightened risk of them affecting astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), disrupting satellites, and possible breaking through the “safety blanket” surrounding our planet. It has a worryingly high chance of hitting us in the future.
Back in 1859, a massive CME caused major damage, by interfering with telegraph networks and even burning down some telegraph stations. A smaller discharge of plasma in 1989 knocked the power out for millions of people in Quebec. According to space weather expert, Daniel Baker, our planet had a near encounter with a massive event in 2012. Fortunately, it missed our planet.
However, it’s nonetheless possible that one could be arriving at some point in the future. If it does, a 2009 study claims that the damages could cost up to $2 trillion within just the first year of recovery. This means potentially massive disruptions and hazardous consequences. Companies handling gas lines and drinking water could become severely affected.
In order to alleviate and properly understand when this potential disaster could hit our planet, the U.S. government has begun its plan. They have announced two documents, the “National Space Weather Strategy”, and the “National Space Weather Action”, which will delve into the issue of understanding, forecasting, and aiding against the problem.
According to Suzanne Spalding, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this will establish a national approach to a possibly global problem. Massive solar flares could cause worrying consequences, such as disrupting communications for airlines. It could lead to blackouts in radio and navigation systems. This will place lives at risk, so it’s paramount to better understand when they would occur.
Furthermore, they are attempting to design new technologies to better forecast hazardous space weather. That way, perhaps we could at least get a warning ahead of time.
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