Thursday, March 8, 2012

Solar Storm Hits Earth & Blinds Venus Spacecraft

Biggest solar storm in years now bombarding Earth (+video)

The two huge solar flares that erupted on the sun on Tuesday have produced a wave of charged particles that are now glancing off our planet's magnetic field. 

By Denise / March 8, 2012
This image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun as it unleashed an X5.4-class solar flare at 7:04 p.m. EST on Tuesday. The flare appears as the bright spot in the upper left.

The biggest solar storm in five years is battering our planet right now, and may cause disruptions to satellites, power grids and communications networks over the next 24 hours, space weather experts say.
At midnight UT the active solar region 1429 unleashed a powerful X5.4-class flare. X-class solar flares are the strongest of the flares. They are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.

It appears that right after the large X5.4 flare another slightly lower, X1 flare (5 times smaller) occurred. You can clearly see a wave going across the Sun.

NASA says that they are still gathering data and that the Space Weather Forecast Lab will have updates available soon.

Two strong solar flares erupted from the surface of the sun late Tuesday (March 6), blasting a wave of plasma and charged particles toward Earth. After speeding through space at 4 million mph, this eruption of material — called a coronal mass ejection (CME) — should be hitting Earth now.
The storm is expected to create strong disruptions due to an odd combination of intense magnetic, radio and radiation emissions, making it the strongest overall solar storm since December 2006, even though the flare that triggered it was not the largest, space weather officials said.
March 8, 2012 12:55 PM

Biggest solar storm in years hits, so far so good

WASHINGTON — One of the strongest solar storms in years engulfed Earth early Thursday, but scientists say the planet may have lucked out.

Hours after the storm arrived, officials said were no reports of problems with power grids, GPS, satellites or other technologies that are often disrupted by solar storms.

But that still can change as the storm shakes the planet's magnetic field in ways that could disrupt technology but also spread colorful Northern Lights. Early indications show that it is about 10 times stronger than the normal solar wind that hits Earth.

An artist's interpretation of the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft orbiting the second planet in our solar system.
updated 2 hours 38 minutes ago
Strong radiation from one of the most intense solar storms in the past five years has temporarily "blinded" a European spacecraft in orbit around Venus, and mission controllers are now racing to fix the problem.
The European Space Agency's Venus Express probe, which is located much closer to the sun than Earth, experienced high doses of radiation from the recent solar storm, and on Tuesday at 8:40 p.m. EST, spacecraft operators reported that Venus Express' onboard startracker cameras had become blinded.



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