Directions - Write at least one paragraph consisting of three to five sentences including an introduction to your topic idea, the facts that support your statement, and your conclusion based on facts. Note that two posts, your position statement and a follow-up response, are required for each topic.
After stating and explaining your initial thoughts in post 1, do some research using the suggested or other reputable* websites and articles. Then in post 2, discuss whether or not your original thoughts and ideas have changed based on your research or respond to another's opinion in a threaded discussion. Be sure to cite your sources in post 2. Post 1 is just a statement expressing your initial thoughts, so no other sources are needed unless you just wish to include them.
Be sure to watch the SolarMax video BEFORE joining this discussion!
Citations are required for post 2.
When the sun puts its power on display, we often can't see it all or predict it in advance, but the effects can be world-changing. A massive solar storm could wipe out almost all of our modern technology with little warning, .
Our nearest star, the Sun, is essential for life on Earth. It is an unusually well-behaved star, but solar storms and the solar wind can negatively impact the performance and reliability of not only our space-based technology, but also our ground-based technology. Satellites can be disabled, radio communications wiped out worldwide, and voltages sent soaring to dangerous levels in power transformers and oil pipelines by a solar storm. When aimed at Earth, strong solar flares and eruptions can supercharge the Earth's aurora displays over the poles. The most powerful solar storms can also pose a risk to astronauts and satellites in space and even completely impair power grids on Earth's surface as well as interfere with communication and navigation signals. How would all this affect our medical care? ( Keep in mind: Solar storms not only can kill satellites, they can kill astronauts.
The last truly massive display of Sol's power happened in 1859, when an invisible electromagnetic wave . Electrons, swept up like so much detritus in the magnetic current, coursed along telegraph wires. When they met an obstacle, like the hand of a telegraph operator, they crashed through it — delivering a sharp shock. Papers in telegraph offices caught fire. Operators found that even if telegraphs weren't connected to power, the giddy subatomic stream could carry messages over vast distances. Lights of the aurora danced across the sky.
Read about our Sun's 1859 super flare and its impact on the Earth when there was little in the way of technology. See:
Another good article: . In a worst-case scenario, orbiting satellites, GPS, global communications, and power grids could be out for months or longer. One report said a major solar event could cost the country 1-2 trillion dollars in the first year alone and it could take four-to-ten years to fully bounce back.
We'd have some warning, as instruments all over the world and in space now monitor the sun every second of the day. But even at the speed of light, a massive solar flare's telltale flash of radiation would leave humanity between just a few minutes and — if we were very lucky — a day to prepare for the wave of charged particles surging toward us through space.
Amazingly, in 1859, before all that monitoring equipment was put in place, an astronomer spotted the flare before the storm reached Earth. At 11:18 a.m. on September 1, the English astronomer Richard Carrington stood in his private observatory recording sunspots on an image of the sun projected through his telescope onto a small screen. The next morning , "skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight," according to NASA. "Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii."
In the (mostly) preelectric world of 1859, most of humanity experienced the storm as little more than a strange light show — if they were even awake to see it. And aside from a few smarting fingers, it doesn't seem to have harmed anyone in the long term. However, today spacewalking astronauts might have only minutes after the first flash of light to find shelter ... Their spacecraft would probably have adequate shielding; the key would be getting inside in time.
As our world has become more reliant on electronics in the last century and a half, we've had few glimpses of the potential dangers of solar storms to our new infrastructure. Since 1972, NASA has recorded three instances of solar storms significantly disrupting daily life.
But none of those storms come close to the scale of the 1859 monster, known as the Carrington Event. If a Carrington Event happened today, the world would likely have to deal with the simultaneous loss of GPS, cell phone reception, and much of the power grid. The global aircraft fleet might have to coordinate an unprecedented mass grounding without satellite guidance. Unguarded electronic infrastructure could fail outright. We'd all have to — at least in the short term — wait for tomorrow's newspaper to come out to learn details of the aftermath.
The best available estimates suggest a modern Carrington Event would cost humanity $1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year and take another four to 10 years to achieve full recovery. A 2007 NASA estimate found that the damage to the satellite fleet would cost . In this video, it is predicted that there is a 50% chance a solar storm will occur in 50 years and it increases by 12% every year.
Fortunately, Carrington Event-level storms seem pretty rare, but we have no reliable way of predicting when the next one could happen. So enjoy the sunset, but remember the deadly power it contains. Go to and read about the British Space Weather Preparedness Strategy.
Consult NASA's space weather site and other space weather sites (see below) to learn the many ways in which space weather can impact our lives. Then discuss the ways in which we should prepare to protect ourselves and our technology, including the financial cost versus the possible cost to our way of life and technology.
For more information on the possible impact of our Sun on our technology in the new solar cycle, go to , especially the section "Space Weather Effects on Technology" at .
From : "On Aug. 2nd, 1972, giant sunspot MR11976 began to explode. For the next 2 days it unleashed a series of flares, causing deep radio blackouts on Earth and punishing the solar panels and onboard electronics of satellites in Earth orbit. One CME (cloud of plasma) rocketed across the sun-Earth divide in only 14.6 hours–a record that still stands today. Resulting geomagnetic storms sparked auroras so bright that they cast shadows in countries as far south as Britain."
The 1972 solar storm is legendary at NASA because it occurred in between two Apollo missions: the crew of Apollo 16 had returned to Earth in April and the crew of Apollo 17 was preparing for a moon landing in December. If the timing had only been a little different, astronauts could have been sickened by radiation, requiring an emergency return home for medical attention.
Turns out, it is legendary in the Navy, too. According to just accepted for publication in the journal Space Weather, declassified Naval archives reveal an extraordinary explosion in the sea lanes near Vietnam: "On 4 August (1972) TF-77 aircraft reported some two dozen explosions in a minefield near Hon La over a 30-second time span…Ultimately the Navy concluded that the explosions had been caused by the magnetic perturbations of solar storms, the most intense in more than two decades."
Browse through . Do we expect an active upcoming solar cycle or is our Sun entering a long-term (~century) minimum? What will the Sun do next? See .
Think about the financial and other impacts space weather can have on things we take for granted such as access to health care, military capability, communications, oil pipelines, power grids ….
If you are looking for extra material for Post 2, you could take a look at these two recent articles:
WARNING: NEVER stare directly at the Sun through a telescope, binoculars or your unaided eyes without protection. Astronomers use special solar filters to safely observe the Sun through telescopes.
Classmate post to respond on:
There is no question that the sun is crucial to our life here on earth. Its raw power and size is not just something large to look at in the sky. It is incredibly hot and dangerous. Its flares reach higher than the size of earth. It is creating a whole weather system around it that if something bad were to happen, it could take out the earth in a minute. Space weather can go really bad, just like earth weather. It could send debris into satellites and break them, thus ruining communication, gps and anything else reliant on the satellite. Or, it could send debris onto earth, crushing buildings, people, or even whole cities. Toxic gases could overwhelm the earth and overtake us ruining life.
There is debate on what the sun cycle 25 will be like. Some think that it will be weaker, while others have predicted it to be stronger. It is quite hard to tell until it happens, or happening as the article was published in 2018. I think regardless of what happens, heavy preparations need to be insured and taken. It is obvious that these cycles and sunspots could have a negative impact on the earth no matter what. So, taking precautions to withstand and recover quicker are more important that trying to prevent it. We do not have the power and technology to control the sun even if we wanted to, so preparing for the inevitable negative problems is a necessity.