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UK Satellite Broadband ISP Services Under Threat from Solar Storm

Posted: 04th Aug, 2010 By: MarkJ
solar_eruption_uk_august_2010The SANS Institute has warned that a significant solar storm (solar mass ejection / eruption), which occurred several times across the entire Earth-facing side of the sun during Sunday (August 1st, 2010), could threaten ISP communication satellites in orbit around the earth.

Four huge coronal mass ejections are now headed towards Earth and one hit earlier this morning. The next three are due at 4pm GMT, midnight tonight and then the final one will hit at 6am GMT on Thursday. We might even be able to see a faint Northern Lights (Aurora) effect in the UK, if not for the terrible weather today and long daylight hours.

Johannes Ullrich, SANS's Chief Researcher, said:

"A comment to my earlier "lightning" diary pointed out that NOAA warned of a large solar eruption that happened on Sunday (August 1st). NOAA monitors "Space Weather" in an effort to protect satellites. In this case, the effect may be large enough to cause some problems on the ground as well.

These events are not all that unusual, and in most cases there is little ground based damage if any. Long distance radio transmissions and satellite communications are usually affected first. Given our reliance on systems like GPS, an outage may have indirect ground based affects. Sensitive electronics may be affected and outdoor radiation levels may be higher then normal. Long distance power lines may also be affected by the associated changes in earths magnetic field as well as charged particles.

On the fun site: This may lead to more northern lights. Maybe check them out after dark for the next couple of days."

Unlike in Roland Emmerich's disaster film 2012, we probably won't need the help of John Cusack to escape our Earths imminent destruction. In fact most communication Satellite's are designed to cope with this kind of event and, with the odd potential exception, most customers of UK broadband Satellite operators are only likely to experience a brief outage, if any. We hope.
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