THE WEATHER in space is getting hectic.
A solar storm will brush Earth today as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) release their findings.
A solar storm, or geomagnetic storm, affects Earth when emissions from the sun reach the ionosphere — the boundary between space and our atmosphere.
The “cloud of protons and electrons” collides with the Earth’s magnetic field and distorts it, causing events like the Northern Lights.
Although solar storms sound serious — and they can be — NOAA released a balanced list of “potential impacts” from this solar storm that isn’t huge.
They wrote: “An increase in the energetic part of the solar radiation spectrum may indicate an increased biological risk to astronauts or passengers and crew members when flying at high latitudes and altitudes.”
Humans are exposed to trace amounts of radiation from space – known as cosmic rays – with every flight.
However, flights at high altitude and far from the equator are at greater risk during a solar storm, as the magnetic field pushes radiation toward the poles.
“This information should be used in conjunction with current solar radiation storm conditions when assessing the overall impact,” the briefing concluded.
Artificial hardware in orbit may also be at risk.
“Energetic particles may pose an increased risk to all satellite systems vulnerable to single event effects,” NOAA wrote.
Just last month, a series of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites were doomed by cosmic weather – the satellites crashed back to Earth after being hit by a solar storm.
CNBC reported that satellites could be at greater risk in the future as the Sun heads into a phase where solar flares will become more frequent.
NOAA and Nasa are at odds over exactly when the last solar storm will hit Earth — there’s an 18-hour gap in the two agencies’ forecasts.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4995821/solar-storm-could-cause-biological-radiation-risk-to-astronauts/ A solar storm could cause “increased biological radiation risk to astronauts and passengers,” NOAA warns