Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Solar Flare Activity Prompting NASA to Convene a News Briefing Thursday in Washington

Economic collapse is what's most on my mind when I tell people they need to prepare for the grid to fail. But there are other factors as well, factors like a massive solar flare creating havoc with everything electrical. Which would be awesome, if you ask me.

    Weather Tech -

    Increasing solar activity and the threat that coronal mass ejections (CME) pose to Earth has prompted NASA to convene a news briefing at its Headquarter building in Washington on Thursday afternoon.

    Thursday’s briefing has been arranged, space agency officials say, in light of new information coming from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), spacecraft and other NASA probes. The briefing will feature new details about the structure of solar storms and the impact they have on Earth.The briefing panellists are Madhulika Guhathakurta, STEREO program scientist; Craig DeForest, staff scientist, Southwest Research Institute, David Webb, research physicist, Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College; and Alysha Reinard, research scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado.

    The briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website at 2:00 PM EDT (7:00 PM GMT).

    A massive solar flare, the largest recorded in four years, occurred last Tuesday prompting fears the blast could result in some disruption to Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) or communication signals around the world.

    Solar flares happen when the powerful magnetic fields in and around the sun reconnect. They’re usually associated with active regions, often seen as sun spots, where the magnetic fields are strongest. The most powerful flare on record was in 2003, during the last solar maximum. It was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors measuring it. The current solar cycle will peak in 2013.

    A powerful X-class flare can create long lasting radiation storms, which can harm satellites and even give airline passengers, flying near the poles, small radiation doses. X flares also have the potential to create global transmission problems and world-wide blackouts.

    In 1989, a geomagnetic storm energised ground induced currents which disrupted electric power distribution throughout most of Quebec province in Canada and produced aurora borealis displays as far south as Texas in the USA.