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Incoming solar storm might disrupt communication system: All you need to know

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a warning about potential disruptions to radio communications due to a solar flare on March 26 (today). This same event could also lead to spectacular aurora displays for skywatchers at high latitudes.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: March 26, 2024 16:56 IST
Solar storm
Image Source : FREE PIK Solar storm

A geomagnetic storm watch has been issued by NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. It has warned of potential disruptions to radio communications due to a solar flare. This same event could create stunning aurora displays for skywatchers at high latitudes.

Experts say there's no need for public concern. The most significant impact might be on high-frequency radio transmissions, used by some aircraft communicating with distant control towers. However, most commercial airlines have satellite backups in place, according to Jonathan Lash, a forecaster at the centre.

Satellite operators and power grids may also experience minor effects, but nothing outside their handling capabilities, Lash added.

According to Lash, for the general public, this could be a fantastic opportunity to see the night sky come alive with auroras, if you have clear skies and are located at higher latitudes.

The sun's magnetic field undergoes an 11-year cycle where its poles reverse. Solar activity fluctuates during this cycle, with the current period nearing its peak, known as solar maximum. During this active phase, geomagnetic storms like the one expected can occur several times a year, dropping to just a few instances during solar minimums.

The last major disruption to radio communications from a solar flare occurred in December, the strongest such event in years.

Meanwhile, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced another milestone achievement. ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully completed a mission to minimise orbital debris, as per an announcement made on Monday. This was accomplished on March 21 when PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3) re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, meeting its "fiery end".

The PSLV-C58 Mission was completed on January 1, 2024, after successfully placing all satellites into their intended orbits. The final stage of the PSLV was then repurposed into a 3-axis stabilized platform called POEM-3. The stage was maneuvered from 650 km to 350 km to facilitate earlier re-entry. Subsequently, it was deactivated to eliminate any remaining propellants and minimize the risk of accidental break-up.

ALSO READ: IAU approves Chandrayaan-3 landing site name 'Shiva Shakti'



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