big risk for new technologies?

Clement Meirone 4 minutes
satellite space
Solar storms can damage satellites and our electrical grids.

This is further evidence of the impact that a sun star can have on our modern means of communication… Last week, on the occasion of a new satellite deployment by Space X, geomagnetic storm brought almost everything out of orderdooming them to extinction in the atmosphere.

How to explain this phenomenon and what is a solar storm? Do they pose a danger to our means of communication and how to protect ourselves from this? response elements.

Heavy blow for Space X

Space X, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has been deploying thousands of satellites around the Earth for several years. The Starlink program is about providing Internet access anywhere in the world through a constellation of satellites placed in low Earth orbit. The initial project envisages the deployment of 40,000 satellites.. In comparison, since the beginning of space exploration, only 10,000 satellites have been sent into space.

On Thursday, February 3, another 49 satellites launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were supposed to go into space. It was without counting on a solar storm (geomagnetic) which disabled 40 of those 49 satellites!

The radiation from the solar storm caused an increase in the density of the lower layers of the atmosphere, where the satellites were located. This drag, caused by the increase in density, prevented the satellites from deploying normally. Thus, 40 damaged satellites re-entered the atmosphere, disintegrating.. Space X hasn’t released any news about the other nine satellites.

Storms with potentially catastrophic consequences

This unfortunate episode is reminiscent of the power of solar storms. These periodic phenomena occur when the sun releases pent-up energy in a burst of plasma called a solar flare. These eruptions, in the most violent cases, could go so far as to change the Earth’s magnetic field, causing power grids to fail..

In March 1989, a powerful cloud of ionized particles plunged Quebec into darkness for nearly nine hours. Similarly, in 2012, the Earth narrowly escaped a giant solar storm. which, according to NASA, could “bring our civilization back to the 18th century”..

Scientists have long been working on solutions to limit the damage from these solar eruptions if necessary. Among the solutions considered are capacitor banks capable of absorbing and dissipating excess energy, or damping devices called Faraday cagesaround critical equipment.

However, these solutions are very expensive and probably won’t work 100%. The best way to prevent the catastrophic consequences of solar storms today is to predict them in advance. The peak of the solar cycle is expected in 2025, by which time the number of solar flares is expected to increase.