Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Satellite Navigation

Solar Storms Knock-Out GPS


A radiation storm is recorded by the SOHO spacecraft Friday, Sept. 9. The white speckles are caused by protons striking the craft's digital camera: The camera has a device that blocks out the Sun itself.

Solar storms can, have done and will knock out satellites such as GPS. Having multiple Global Navigation Satellite Systems will improve the services, but nevertheless, it is a real problem.

I remember particularly the event in September 2005 (see image above) when several GPS satellites were non-functional and the GPS system suffered from lack of signals.

Credit: SOHO

On September 5, 2005, the C2 coronagraph observed a bulbous coronal mass ejection heading out from behind the left side of the Sun. This is just about where old sunspot region 798 would be. When viewing this active region previously, it was producing several substantial solar storms. It was probably the source of several large solar storms that occurred on the far side of the Sun. And just as scientists suspected it might perform, the same region, while still just at the Sun's left edge, erupted two days later with an X17 flare (almost off the scale) and an associated CME. If the estimate is correct, that would make it the fifth largest flare ever recorded.

So far the Sun has been quiet; before the storm?

If you prefer red and blue poetic cats to the Sun, have a look here! :-)

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