Washington: NASA has assured the worried public that a gigantic, killer solar flare won’t destroy the Earth in 2012.
Citing the accurate fact that solar activity is currently ramping up in its standard 11-year cycle, there are those who believe that 2012 could be coincident with the “killer solar flare”.
This same solar cycle has occurred over millennia and anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm.
In addition to this, the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in late 2013 or early 2014, not 2012.
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured the image of a solar flare as it erupted from the sun, and this was the most powerful flare measured with modern methods.
This is not to say that space weather can’t affect our planet as the explosive heat of a solar flare can’t make it all the way to our globe, but electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles certainly can.
Solar flares can temporarily alter the upper atmosphere creating disruptions with signal transmission from a GPS satellite to Earth causing it to be off by many yards.
Another phenomenon known as the coronal mass ejection (CME), could be even more disruptive as these solar explosions propel bursts of particles and electromagnetic fluctuations into Earth’s atmosphere.
Those fluctuations could induce electric fluctuations at ground level that could blow out transformers in power grids and the CME’s particles can also collide with crucial electronics onboard a satellite and disrupt its systems.
First Published: Saturday, November 12, 2011, 19:21