Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two Nights of Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Duck! There's a solar storm going on   Trouble with your GPS? Your computer is mysteriously rebooting? It's probably due to the effects of a solar storm coming from the sun.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory watched this solar flare erupting from the sun on January 22, 2012. The "solar energetic particles" which erupted from the sun are traveling at a speed of 1,400 miles per second and will hit Earth on January 24
How do solar storms affect life on Earth? NASA gives this explanation:
"Strong electrical currents driven along the Earth’s surface during auroral events disrupt electric power grids and contribute to the corrosion of oil and gas pipelines. Changes in the ionosphere during geomagnetic storms interfere with high-frequency radio communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation. During polar cap absorption events caused by solar protons, radio communications can be compromised for commercial airliners on transpolar crossing routes. Exposure of spacecraft to energetic particles during solar energetic particle events and radiation belt enhancements cause temporary operational anomalies, damage critical electronics, degrade solar arrays, and blind optical systems such as imagers and star trackers."
And don't forget the astronauts.