Just when you thought there was nothing going on, the sun is going to waken! Heliophysics specialists at NASA tells us that our star, our sun, has been sleeping for the past 11 years; soon it will rise, and shine. NASA has concerns about our infrastructure, and they say we must prepare; that in the next few years we will see much higher levels of solar activity.
Our technology-based society, we are told, with all its marvel, will be subject to unprecedented sensitivity to these solar events which have occurred several times within recorded history. During August and September of 1859, a British astronomer, Richard Carrington, was observing a solar flare with his unprotected eyes. He was projecting the flare on a white screen. Carrington's report makes reference to an explosion that electrified telegraph lines, shocked telegraph technicians, and in some cases set the papers on their desks afire. He says the glow of the flare brought campers out of their beds. They thought it was morning. They began preparing breakfast!
In the NASA funded study, “Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts”, experts discuss the possible consequences of the combination of a "super solar flare" and an extreme geomagnetic storm. The Severe Space Weather Events Report indicates that Solar flares vary in strength and that we are protected by our atmosphere and by the Earth's magnetic field. These flares are highly radioactive; the heat produced can be expected to damage satellites, and the x-rays produced can interrupt radio communications. These could impact the Internet, GPS Global Location devices, and mobile communications, as well as more sophisticated systems.
A type of Solar flare which may be dangerous to humans is the coronal mass ejection. These ejections of super heated gas from the corona carry a massive amount of radioactive material. This material then reaches our planet after
three to five days of traveling through space. Technologically developed countries may face blackouts at devastating cost, 20 times the damage, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The experts are now meeting to discuss appropriate measures. Meanwhile they advise the private sector, air travel industry, and those in the electric power business to begin to take precautions for the colossal solar storm surges that will engulf the Earth.