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Solar Storms – A Puzzling Threat

solar storms

For untold thousands of years, we have relied on the sun’s light and warmth for our survival. Its powerful rays make life and growth in our world very much possible. And, for this, we worship and adore it. However, the sun also expels tremendous plasma storms, solar storms, and these eruptions of energy charged winds are potentially capable of disrupting our power supply. Which may ultimately result in a global blackout.

The fact which bothers me the most is, the infrastructures and technologies we use are vulnerable to space weather! Of course, we are grateful for the sun but, it also presents a major hazard for us. From plasma storms to solar storms; these all have the potential to cause major harm to the planet earth. These storms occur time and again at irregular intervals of up to several years.

Every time when we see the news that an asteroid or a solar storm is in proximity to earth, we safely assume that it won’t pass through the earth. But, the fact is, if at all any one of the above was to pass through the earth, we would have to suffer a great deal of loss. The last solar storm in 2017 fortunately, as always, missed the earth. If it were to pass through the earth, more than 50% of the earth’s population would have been gone by now!

In order to solve the enigma of solar storms, NASA scientists have developed the first probe that can fly to the sun. This probe has the capacity to approach the sun closer than ever before. The expectations are, this will help astrophysicists to know about the upcoming solar storms by making appropriate space observations. Also, the risk posed by the storm can be assessed based on the observations from this probe.

So, will this enable scientists to investigate the risks posed by the storms, or are we at their mercy?

Well, this mission is meant to help provide advance warning thereby enabling us to better prepare for the storms. But to achieve this goal, research must be conducted on the origins i.e. on the surface of the mighty sun! Another question that is yet to be answered is, why do solar storms pick up speeds so rapidly? In fact, they reach such high speeds that it takes them one to two days to reach the earth, which is about 50,000 km a second! The estimated speed of an approaching solar storm is somewhere around seven million kilometers an hour. Just to compare, a full-blown tornado rages at a speed of 500 kilometers an hour! 🙂

Never before has there been a mission that has flown so close to the sun. Obviously, such an approach is risky, but it is also the need of the hour. While the outcome of this ambitious mission remains uncertain, this is the only way to explore how and when solar storms occur. If this mission proves to be a success, then this would surely set completely new standards in space exploration.

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