No danger, but solar flare watched closely

2012-01-24 16:57

Johannesburg - Space enthusiasts kept watch on Tuesday for the possible effects on earth of a solar flare.

According to the SA National Space Agency (Sansa) a large sunspot erupted at 05:59 on Monday and a coronal mass ejection (CME), a cloud of solar plasma, was thrown in earth's direction.

The CME was a fast event with estimated speeds ranging from 1 400 km/second to 2 200 km/second, according to Sansa.

If it maintained this velocity and reached the ACE satellite on Tuesday, it would affect the earth's ionosphere and geomagnetic field 18 minutes later.

The satellite monitors solar wind, interplanetary magnetic fields and higher energy particles accelerated by the sun.

This could interrupt radio communications, affect satellites, and stress power distribution transformers.

The ionosphere is a layer of the earth's atmosphere crucial for signals transmitted to satellites, or from an earth transmitter to an earth receiver.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, solar flares and CMEs are not a danger to humans.

The planet's magnetic field (magnetosphere) and atmosphere deflect and absorb the solar energy and particles.

Sun storms could pose risks to astronauts though, and could upset the electronics and transmissions on science, military, and communications satellites.

They could also provide a small dose of radiation to passengers on high-latitude flights, and provoke auroras (northern and southern lights).

People using social media were quick to comment.

"Right about now we're getting hit by a solar flare, I'm told. No wonder my GPS has just directed me right into Emmarentia Dam," Riaan Grobler wrote on Facebook.

  • aardvarkie - 2012-01-24 17:15

    Nothing unusual happened, just as my Jedi powers predicted :-)

  • Nurse - 2012-01-24 18:04

    Solar flare, solar flare, no-one can do the things that solar flare can! whoop whoop

  • Trevor - 2012-01-24 18:30

    mmmm...can Eskom get this power...or will they steal it and the tax payer will have to pay for it again.

  • John - 2012-01-25 07:55

    If we were to Panic would they tell us? No... So there is need to panic in any scenario. Yer all gna die =)

  • rudolph.ramalhosa - 2012-01-29 00:48

    it just shows how spoiled we are not taking care of our ozone layer but pollute our ozone and allowing those dangerous sun flares penitrate what protected us all these decades so if we get hit hard and suffer then we have only our selfs to blame.

  • Hendri Geldenhuys - 2014-01-09 06:19

    I work for a wifi hotspot company and would like to know if this solar flare could be the cause of our few random acting wifi routers and instability in internet lines

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